Man held in custody complains about police abuse
By Unumoe Esera
APIA: Tuesday 19th June 2012: A man who was held in custody for four weeks appeared before the District Court this morning on several charges.
Usugafono Autagavaia, 32 years old from Vaitele Uta and Vailoa, Palauli faced eight counts of using insulting words, two counts of threatening words, arson, urinating at the Watch House (police property) and willfully damaging an electric light at property also belonging to the Ministry of Police and Prisons.
The matter has been adjourned without plea to the 3rd July. The defendant was also released on bail and is to sign at the Police Station at Tuanaimato every Wednesday and Friday.
The Defendant however, was unhappy about how he was treated by police while he was held in custody and voiced his opinion in Court.
“They have assaulted me several times. Look at my face, they did this to me. Where’s the truth in the law? I was held behind bars in a concrete cell at Tafaigata Prison instead of the custody cell,” he said.
He was silenced by Judge Tuatagaloa instead. “If you complain like that again I might have to remand you back under police custody,” she said.
Usugafono was held in custody since 11th May earlier this year.
The Assistant Police Commissioner Leaupepe Fatu Pula was asked for a comment about these complaints.
“This is a serious matter. I am not aware of it but if it is has been reported it will be investigated by the Professional Standards Unit,” he said.
As for where custodians were held he stated that there are not enough prison facilities in order to separate custodians and those who are serving time, therefore they are all held at Tafaigata Prison.
Usugafono wrote a letter to the Editor of Talamua and is published in verbatim:
To the Editor
I am writing this letter with tears in my heart of how police officers the so called ‘malu o le malo’ abuse and muscle the law resulting in collateral damage on my face as witnessed on me.
Moreover, they arrested me and spend useless 4 weeks in custody without any valid reason whatsoever.
The officers mentioned are Mafoa Mano, Kate, Kalati Tusani. Moreover, they stole my laptop which cost more than $10,000 tala and stole my reputation as a superstar of Samoa.
Dr Fonti, da champ.
The defendant is charged for burning down his father’s house at Vaitele and Leaupepe speculated that it is suspected that he suffers from a mental disability but that it could only be confirmed by medical tests.