Supreme Court Justice, Niava Mata Tuatagaloa, has questioned the decision by the Samoa Prisons and Corrections Authority to allow a notorious criminal, Peika Pesa, one who has repeatedly broken the law, out on weekend parole.
From the bench, she has ordered lawyer, Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa, of the Attorney General’s Office to look into the matter to see what section of the law that allows these inmates to go on weekend parole.
Justice Niava made the comments during the hearing of Pesa, who is also known as Peika Pesaleli.
He has been accused for possession of narcotics, namely marijuana, the latest charge in history of criminal offenses.
Pesaleli’s criminal history dates back to 1996 when he first appeared in Court on the charges of burglary and theft. Since then, he has developed a reputation as a notorious prison escapee, skipping prison at will.
The latest offense he stands accused of was allegedly committed last year when he was released on weekend parole.
He was caught with 18 marijuana leaves, 12 marijuana cigarettes and 2,105 seeds of marijuana. He has denied the charges.
Pesaleli is charged with co-defendant Faameini Segisegi who has pleaded guilty to the charge.
Prosecution sought the Court’s leave to have the matter re-mentioned next week Monday to set another hearing date because the co-defendant will be testifying against Pesaleli.
In the meantime, Justice Niava wondered how Pesaleli was allowed out in the first place.
“I’ve noticed that the there’s four pages all together that states the history of all your previous convictions,” said Justice Niava.
“I’ve also noticed that the hearing that was scheduled for today (yesterday) it is from the offense that you committed on 26 December last year and yet you are serving time in prison."
“How were you able to be allowed out of prison while you were serving time?”
This is when Pesaleli told the Court that he was on a weekend parole.
“Your Honor, I came out to spend the weekend with my family and that is why I have pleaded not guilty to the charge against me,” he said.
But Justice Niava did not accept the explanation from the defendant.
“But what I am saying is how is that possible when you are serving time in prison,” she asks.
“Secondly, it’s the history of your previous convictions there are so many, four pages and yet you are still allowed to come out to spend the weekend with your family."
“I see as well that you are released out on the weekend and yet you re-offend again while on bail for the weekend, and yet the Samoa Prisons is still allowing you to come out on the weekend even though they know very well that you keep on reoffending when you come out."
“I see numerous offenses that you have committed and I have also been told by the prosecution that your sentencing term will complete in 2029.”
“What kind of person are you now?
“Do you not want to go back to your family or does your family no longer want you because of all the crimes that you have committed?"
“Or is breaking the law become an addiction to you, and what about your identity?”
She added she will be advising the Office of the Attorney General to look into the matter for those inmates who are serving time in prisons that are being released on the weekend parole.
“There is no safety in this country and its people if this is the case, and you do not care about the safety of the people and the country as a whole,” she said.
“So whatever works the Police are doing to ensure the safety of this country, it will never work if people like you are always allowed to come out."
“You started offending in 1996 and now it’s 2018 and you are still doing this, but I hope the Court’s words today (yesterday) have sunk into your heart and mind so that you could take it and use it.”
Outside of Court, Lupematasila said she was informed by the Prisons and Correction Services that Pesaleli was on special leave hence why he was allowed to go out to his family.
“All of these charges are added up and he will be released on 12 May 2029,” she said.
“We will look into this matter on why he is allowed out and under which section of the law is he eligible to weekend parole."
“He kept escaping because his application for parole is always denied.”
HISTORY OF OFFENDING:
• 1996, Pesaleli was charged with burglary and theft
• 2000 he committed burglary and theft again
• 2001 he escaped from prison
• 2002 he was charged with possession of narcotics
• 2003 he was charged with unlawful entry, burglary and actual bodily harm
• 2004 he escaped again from prison and he burgled 14 houses as well as indecent assault
• 2005 he escaped again from prison and willful damage
• 2007 he was charged with escape from prison, burglary and theft
• 2009 burglary and theft again
• 2011 escape from prison, armed with a dangerous weapon and resisting Police
• 2013 possession of narcotics again
• 2014 aggravated burglary and assault
• 2015 insulting words
2017 possession of narcotics