Samoan man was kept in prison for too long

Tuesday July 07, 2020 Written by RNZP Published in Small World
Tanumalala high security prison. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Tipi Autagavaia Tanumalala high security prison. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Tipi Autagavaia

A Samoan man was kept in prison for nearly five years longer than he should have been because of an administrative error, RNZP reports

Sio Agafili, 45, was meant to have been released in December 2015, but the error was only picked up on by a judge when he appeared in the Supreme Court last week.

"He's been imprisoned unlawfully," said Muriel Lui, who was appointed as Agafili's lawyer by the court when the error was spotted.

Lui said she was concerned there could be plenty more prisoners like Agafili languishing in Samoa's much-maligned prison system because of basic errors.

"I've heard of other cases of a similar nature," she said. "This is not the first of this type."

Agafili was convicted of burglary and theft in November 2008, when he was sentenced to seven years in prison. Then, in December 2008, he was convicted on unrelated counts of burglary and theft, and sentenced to five years in prison.

Those sentences were meant to have been served concurrently, Lui said, which is the default in the Samoan system. That means he should have been released in December 2015, after the seven years lapsed.

But it was only last week that Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke noticed the error, ahead of Agafili's appearance over an assault at Tanumalala prison.

"He didn't realise anything. He didn't realise that it was supposed to be concurrent, and it was only picked up when he came up for sentence for the current offence he's been charged with," said Lui.

In court, the police, through the Attorney General's office, conceded Agafili was detained illegally, and he was released on bail ahead of his sentencing for the latest conviction at the end of the month.

Read more: RNZP




1 comment

  • Comment Link Pete Thomas Wednesday, 08 July 2020 09:41 posted by Pete Thomas

    Perhaps he will have learnt more of a lesson then not to go out and steal other peoples stuff. No doubt he will sue and get millions so he will be happy then with the money

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