Former Cabinet Minister one of 35 pardoned prisoners

Leafa Vitale on a wheelchair during this afternoons ceremony suffering from diabetes, gout among other frailties PHOTOS by Aiga Tofilau

By Lance Polu

APIA: 08 June 2012: Former Cabinet Minister Leafa Vitale was amongst the 35 prisoners released from prison today as an amnesty to commemorate Samoa’s 50th anniversary of independence.

The amnesty was announced by the Head of State during his Independence address from the throne during the Flag Raising ceremony 1 June 2012, to mark the country’s 50th year of political independence.

Leafa was jailed in 2000 for his role in the assassination of a cabinet colleague along with the late Toi Aukuso. Both had served as Cabinet Ministers under the late Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana.

Leafa was labeled as the action man having moved the construction of major and existing infrastructural works such as major and access roads, rural electrification and water supplies around the country that was the springboard for all other economic and social developments in the country.

The selection of the prisoners to be pardoned was done by the Parole Board headed by the Chief Justice, Patu Tiavaasue Falefatu Sapolu and considered prisoners that were serving time for crimes other than sexual abuse and physical violence.

The list of 35 prisoners was approved by Cabinet before the amnesty was declared by the Head of State who has the constitutional power to pardon prisoners. Twenty of the prisoners were on parole while 15 others were approved by Cabinet on the advice of the Parole Board.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegoi told the prisoners to value and use their freedom properly as much of their days have been wasted in prison that have affected their relationship with their families and loved ones.

He also emphasized making the right choices and setting priorities as despite how high one can be in government or society, the law will not treat them differently.

He said even pastors have gone to jail for making the wrong choices.

Some of the young prisoners released today

Respected orator, writer and educator Agafili Tuitolova’a spoke on behalf of the prisoners thanking the government and their families for not having isolated them while they were serving time “in that dark place”.

He assured the Prime Minister that they have felt deep remorse and that they will spend the rest of their lives to be with their families and loved ones and to serve God and country.

Youngest of the pardoned is 19 year old Peter Ulugia who was involved in a murder case in Letogo three years ago while still in College.

The pardoned prisoners:

1. Pesamino Faalogo

2. Pio Faapiano

3. Moomu Lelei

4. Ioane Mamea

5. Sola Ati

6. Tuugalilo Onosai

7. Kapeteni Piula

8. Tuu Gafa

9. Newyear Alofimua

10. Tifaga Aiono

11. Pesamino Ilalio

12. Tavita Inu

13. Fetui Taualoa

14. Agafili Laau Tuitolovaa

15. Isaako Tofa

16. Sale Tupai

17. Lamosa Maalomaiavao

18. Emosi Leasi

19. Alefosio Roebeck

20. Iese Filiga

21. Faamatuinu Ioasa

22. Auvaa Sila

23. Alofisa Telea

24. Sesela Afoa Mateo

25. Seumanu Nemaia Tuuga

26. Seumau Faafiaula

27. Sione Sione

28. Logo Lualua

29. Pele Samoa

30. Aso Manusina

31. Toetu Lavea

32. Leafa Vitale

33. Tua Faapaia

34. Vaaiga Fiu (Female)

35. Peter Ulugia