A lawyer’s fight for better treatment of his clients – including notorious criminal Tagaloasa Filipaina – has reached the Supreme Court.
This time, lawyer Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo, has filed a memorandum with the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu.
The two prisoners are accused of masterminding the failed mass prison break last month while Samoa was trying to prepare for Tropical Cyclone Gita.
A copy of the memorandum, obtained by the Sunday Samoan, shows that Pa’u is filing it against the Ministry of Police and the Ministry of Prisons and Correction Services.
As an “urgent request,” Pa’u is asking the Chief Justice to consider hearing the matter of Tagaloasa and Ovaleni immediately.
The lawyer claims that his clients have been kept in police custody for over three weeks now without criminal charges laid against them. What’s more, he claims they are being denied legal representation.
He is asking the Court for the matter to be called tomorrow, Monday 5 March 2018, so he could make a proper application for the release of his clients.
Pa’u is concerned about the way the Police and the Correction Services have approached and handled Tagaloasa and Ovaleni.
“It is obvious from the way things have turned out that there is a likelihood of the Constitutional rights of the applicants being infringed.”
The lawyer tells the Chief Justice he visited his clients on Thursday but was told that “a decision to allow counsel to visit the applicants can only be made by the Police Commissioner who was away to a meeting and Counsel will be advised by telephone later on the same day about the visit.
“It is now Friday 2 March, 2018 and Counsel is yet to hear from the Police Commissioner about the visit and the need for Counsel to obtain further instructions from the applicants.”
Pa’u argues that the Police Commissioner should protect human rights – including that of his clients.
“However if that is a lawful duty to be undertaken by the Police Commissioner then denying the right of the applicants to have access to legal representation is a breach of section 16 (d) and the rights of the applicants under the Constitution of Samoa.”
Pa’u noted the last time he met with Police Officials including Commissioner, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil “the explanation given by the Commissioner to Counsel was the only reason why the applicants are kept in police custody for the time being is for their safety and the transfer of the applicants back to Tafaigata prison will happen until investigation at Tafaigata prison is completed.
“The investigation remains unknown when it will be finished and it is absolutely unjust and unfair for the applicants to be kept in police custody with uncertainty and continuous denial to their rights to access what they are entitled to while at Tafaigata prison.
“There are other issues that the applicants want to address before your Honor and can only be done so fairly at mentions if the opportunity is so desired by your Honor to be given as part of the rights of the applicants to a fair trial under article 9 of the Constitution.”
Attempts to get a comment from the Commissioner of Police have not been successful. Emails have not been responded to at press time.