Samoa MP Allegedly ‘Encouraged’ Villagers To Resist Police

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Toeolesulusulu did little to alleviate situation, officers say

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, April 30, 2013) – Two witnesses today testified that Samoa Member of Parliament Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster encouraged fellow villagers to retaliate against the Police.

In testimony before the District Court Constables Junior Afereti and Ma’anaima Patu both said Toeolesulusulu also assisted fellow residents of Satapuala to fend off Police who had arrived August last year at a road block the village had put up with two stones walls.

[PIR editor's note: Toeolesulusulu is currently on trial for 15 charges in relation to the Satapuala blockade. 17 co-defendants join him in the same trial, amongst whom are a number of matai.]

"He (the MP) stood on the stone wall and pushed me away calling ‘wait,’" said Constable Patu.

Armed with a shield and helmet, Constable Patu was one of the officers who walked in line towards the second stone wall erected just before the Faleolo International Airport.

He said as they pushed their way forward, Toeolesulusulu called out again "Wait, let’s talk."

At the same time, they came under verbal abuse and some young men of the village tried to assault them, the Constable said.

Constable Afereti said as they approached the key people he saw amongst the many villagers were Toeolesulusulu, Muagututi’a Leao Akeripa, Vaili Mimita and Ga Sakalia.

Asked by Prosecutor, Leinafo Taimalelagi, to describe how the MP had handled the situation.

"Did the MP tried to calm the people or did any action that could have led to a peaceful resolution?" asked the Prosecutor.

"The MP did nothing to remove the people," said Constable Afereti.

Asked again whether there was any other action taken by the MP to create peace, he said "No."

Instead the MP stood on the wall as Vaili and Leao called out to the people to sit down on the road, he said.

It was at that moment that a shot was heard fired from the side of the road and some village men were seen wrestling a gun off a young man of the village.

"Police warning shots were then fired into the sky," said Constable Afereti.

He said it was only then that he saw the MP jump on a truck and call out to the people "Stay calm, leave the Police to carry out their duty."

Photo can’t talk

Defense counsel Papalii Li’o Masepau asked how Constable Afereti arrived at the conclusion that the MP was not trying to help calm the situation.

Constable Afereti said it was by the MP’s actions and him being with Muagututi’a and Vaili who were dishing out instructions to the village.

Papali’i pointed out to Afereti part of his evidence where he said "ua le talia e leoleo le manaoga a le nu’u mo ni fetu’unaiga."

Pointing to a picture of four men facing three Police officials, Papali’i asked what Constable Afereti thought was happening in the picture.

"I do not know because the picture can’t talk," the witness said.

Laughter broke out and Papali’i told Constable Afereti that the picture depicts negotiation between police, Vaili, Muagututi’a, the MP and another villager.

"Do you still say the MP did nothing?" asked Papali’i.

The Constable said he wasn’t skilled in photos.

At a certain point he admitted the MP did try to keep the peace.

"And how did he try to do that?" asked Papali’i.

"By calling out to the people to let the Police do their work, but only after the warning shots were fired," said Constable Afereti.

At that time, the Prosecution pointed that one of the defendants Vaili Mimita had left the room.

When Vaili did not respond to the court registrar’s calls, Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Va’ai called a recess and the defendants to be briefed on court rules.

The trial continues.

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