Eight Luatuanu’u young men jailed for rioting

A mother and son console each other as the jail sentences were confirmed as a police officer stands by

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 03 AUGUST 2018: The District Court Judge Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma today sentenced eight youths of the village of Luatuanu’u to 6 months imprisonment on the charge of taking part in a riot.

The maximum penalty for the offence is 2 years imprisonment, however the Court’s starting point for sentence was 16 months.

The convicted youths were jointly charged with three other men on different charges, and were also convicted for their part in the road blockade that affected motorists and their vehicles 17 and 19 May 2018.

Two were convicted and discharged on the charges of disorderly conduct, armed with a dangerous weapon and uttering threatening words. They are placed under probation for 12 months and ordered to pay $800 costs to the Ministry of Police by 4.00pm today.

One is sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment on the charge of disorderly conduct towards a man from the village of Fagaloa on 19 April 2018.

In passing sentence, Judge Fepuleai pointed out aggravating factors of the case that included endangering the lives of the public and police by their actions.

On the mitigating sides, Judge Fepuleai took into account their guilty pleas at the first chance, their remorsefulness and that the village had already made a public apology.

The Case
On the 17 March 2018, the defendants were involved in an incident at Anoama’a with youths from Falefa village.

Since then, the defendants blocked the public road interrupting public transportation, stopped and searched vehicles and endangered lives.

The defendants were also involved in a stand-off against the police when the police arrived on the scene. On 19 April 2018, the road was again blocked with sands and a toilet bowl.

The seriousness of the defendant’s action moved the Government to stop all Government developments for the village including banning them from participating in rugby competitions and the Seasonal Workers programme in New Zealand and Australia.

That government ban was recently lifted after meeting between the village chiefs and the Prime Minister.

Several of the youth and their relatives broke down in tears when they faced the reality of prison and were consoled by the village church minister and chiefs and orators and their families outside court before they were transported to the Tafa’igata prison.

Relatives console a convicted young man before he was sent to jail