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Samoa PM plotter jailed

Wednesday 23 December 2020 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Samoa

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Samoa PM plotter jailed
Taualai Leiloa talking with his lawyer. Photo: Tipi Autagavaia

Samoa's Supreme Court has convicted and sentenced to five years a man who admitted to one count of conspiring to assassinate the Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

39 year-old, Taualai Leiloa, had accepted the police summary of facts which shows the offending had occurred between April and August last year.

The attempt also involved three other co-accused, Malele Atofu Paulo or King Faipopo, Lema'i Faioso Sione and Australian citizen, Talalelei Pauga, all deny the same charge.

Mr Pauga is currently in police custody in Brisbane to face an extradition hearing.

According to the decision the initial conversation between the defendant, Leiloa and Talalelei Pauga, discussed that the assassination take place between May and June 2019.

It led to Mr Pauga sending money to Leiloa to purchase a weapon to carry out the plot.

The defendant obtained a rifle (pulusila) from a man in Faleatiu village and a 38 revolver pistol from one of his uncles.

The Catholic Church at Siusega and the fish market at Savalalo were the main targets for the plot according to the police in the decision.

Leiloa told the probation report he used the money sent to him from Mr Pauga to look after his family but had no intention to do it.

"He has also expressed deep remorse and regret and says he takes full responsibility for his actions", the ruling said.

The defendant has told the probation he only did it to obtain money.

Meanwhile, the trial for the two co-accused Malele Atofu Paulo and Lema'i Faioso Sione has been rescheduled to start early next year.