MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSASSINATION OF SAMOA CABINET MINISTER LUAGALAU

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APIA, Samoa (July 27, 1999 – Agence France-Presse)---A 34-year-old man was arrested Tuesday and charged with the murder of Minister of Public Works Luagalau Levaula Kamu, Police Commissioner Asi James Blakelock said in a statement.

He said the man, who was not named, was from the village of Malie on the western outskirts of Apia.

No further details about the identity of the man were released.

The accused is to appear in court Wednesday.

Blakelock said that the arrest came after police executed a number of search warrants at addresses in and around Apia Tuesday.

"A number of items were seized during the searches and will be subjected to forensic examination in New Zealand as police continue their inquiries," he said.

Blakelock said the investigation is continuing and police are still keen to hear from any member of the public who may be able to assist with sightings of the gunman as he fled the scene of the shooting.

They would also like to hear from people who know of anyone who has possession of a .223 caliber rifle, as the murder weapon has yet to be recovered, he said.

Luagalau, in Samoa's only ever political assassination, was shot in the back at a social function on July 16 marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party.

He had been master of ceremonies at the event. Immediately after he had introduced Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, he had stepped off the stage to take a cellular telephone call.

Michael Field Agence France-Presse New Zealand/South Pacific E-mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz" target="_blank">afp.nz@clear.net.nz Phone: (64 21) 688438 Fax: (64 21) 694035 Website: afp.nz@clear.net.nz" target="_blank">afp.nz@clear.net.nz

BACKGROUND

SAMOA POLICE CLOSE IN ON KILLER OF ASSASSINATED CABINET MINISTER LUAGALAU

APIA, Samoa (July 28, 1999 – PACNEWS)---Samoa police believe the suspect in the fatal shooting of Cabinet minister Luagalau Levaula Kamu threatened several youths who questioned him as he made his escape.

In a statement, Commissioner Asi James Blakelock said the gunman fled on foot, heading seaward towards Apia through the two urban settlements of Sinamoga and Alamagoto.

At Alamagoto he was reportedly chased by four youths who thought he might have been a thief.

"But when the gunman was cornered by the youths, he allegedly pointed his gun at them and they ran off," Blakelock said.

Police believe the suspect removed his army-styled shirt or jacket and threw it somewhere between the scene of the shooting and Alamagoto.

They have appealed to the public to help them locate the garment as soon as possible.

Police Commissioner Asi James Blakelock said the police also would like to hear from anyone who might have picked up a man resembling the assassin late on Friday night or Saturday morning and driven him somewhere.

Luagalau was shot shortly after 8:00 p.m. on Friday, July 16.

Police investigations have concluded the suspect was a Samoan male, clean-shaven, who wore a brown baseball cap, an army-styled camouflage jacket or shirt and long trousers on the night Luagalau was shot.

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