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Trial for conspiracy to assassinate former Prime Minister set for 2023

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 20 SEPTEMBER 2022: This longstanding matter which has taken many turns since three men were charged in 2019 is now scheduled for trial in February 2023 after the Supreme Court denied the accused’s application to stay proceedings.

There is a suppression order against details of the stay of proceedings hearing, as the actual charges are yet to be heard.

Counsel for the accused, Unasa Iuni Sapolu applied to lift the suppression order yesterday but was denied.

Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese ruled against the application and set the hearing for February 2023.

Conspiracy to assassinate charges
In 2019, police charged three men – Malele Paulo aka King Faipopo, Lema’i Sione and Taualai Leiloa, for conspiracy to assassinate Tuilaepa.

Taualai later turned informer and pleaded guilty to the charge and is serving a 5 year prison sentence since December 2020. Lema’i and Malele however denied the charge.

Later, an Australian citizen Talalelei Pauga was jointly charged along with Lema’i and Malele, and the Attorney General applied to extradite him to stand trial together with the other accused in Samoa.

Talalelei Pauga Feature Image

Talalelei Pauga Feature Image
Last week, a Queensland Court ruled against the order and Talalelei Pauga (photo above) is yet to be released from custody.

Malele Paulo is also an Australian citizen who came to Samoa in 2018 to attend his father’s funeral, but was arrested and charged for defaming Tuilaepa through the video clips he posted on social media.