Detaining defendants at the police station in Apia is unlawful says Judge

By Rula Su’a – Vaai

APIA SAMOA – TUESDAY 01 MAY 2018:  Justice Vui Clarence Nelson has made it clear that detaining defendants at the Apia Police Station is unlawful.

He made a ruling over the matter between prisoners Tagaloasa Filipaina Faisauvale and his nephew Ovaleni Poli Palau Vaili, who have been accused of plotting a mass prison outbreak at Tafaiagata on the night Samoa was hit by Cyclone Gita earlier this year. They have been kept in a cell at the Apia Central police station since then.

“It is enough that the applicants have an arguable case that the Apia Police Station is not by law a prison and their continued detention there is accordingly unlawful.”

The applicants through their lawyer Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo sought their immediate return to the Tafaigata Prison.

Pa’u Mulitalo’s argued that the Apia Police Station is not a “prison” in terms of the applicable law. He stated that the applicant “has exceeded the temporary time frame” of which his clients should be kept at the Apia Police Station,”

The prosecution sought to strike out the application on the basis that the argument has no cause of action and it is therefore frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of process.

“There is no law to the governing motions to strike out,” said His Honour. “The jurisdiction is to exercise sparingly and will only be utilised in plain and obvious cases where the plaintiff or applicants cause of action is so untenable that it is doomed to failure.”

Justice Vui concluded that it is not necessary for the court to consider the applicants second argument, that their incarceration at the Apia Police Station should be temporary only. It is enough that the applicants have an arguable case that the Apia Police Station is not by law a prison and their continued detention there is accordingly unlawful.

“The respondent has failed to show the applicant’s motion is so untenable that it cannot possibly succeed, the application to strike it out is dismissed, and costs are to be reserved to be dealt with.”

Meanwhile police have yet to lay any charges against Tagaloasa and Ovaleni.