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“We’re at fault in releasing the boat without investigation,” says PM

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 04 MAY 2023: Any boat that enters Samoan waters illegally should be seized and investigated before it is released.

However, the boat that entered Samoa last week illegally was released a few days after without an investigation.

At a press conference today, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa said the ministries involved in the case lapsed in carrying out their duties.

“We are at fault here,” she said.

Fiame said because there are many Government Ministries involved in the case, Cabinet is waiting for a full police report on how the boat entered Samoa, and how it was released without a thorough investigation.

She said any boat that enters Samoa illegally is to be detained and investigated and even fined.

However, the boat travelled from American Samoa to Mulifanua wharf where it picked up supplies then headed to the Salelologa wharf where it offloaded its cargo.

“When the shipping officials at the Mulifanua wharf realized there were no legal documents for the boat to enter Samoa, rather than reporting and seizing the boat, they went about preparing papers to have the boat legally be in Samoa.”

When asked about issuing a penalty against the boat even though it has left Samoa, Fiame said it won’t be the case.

She said the Attorney General advice was that it was the Samoan officials that made the first move to legalize the boat’s presence in Samoa so penalizing the boat is not possible.

The boat is owned by an American businessman that shipping officials said to have travelled to Samoa before.