Man held in custody complains about police abuse

Usugafono Autagavaia also known as Fonti with a cut above his right eye.

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

Talamua

APIA

Dear Sir,

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.

Sincerely,

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Ann

    If indeed this man suffers from mental illness…….why are the police beating him up? Please, show some compassion and get him some help!! Help does not mean beating him up until he complies!!

  2. Jay

    I have known Usufono for the last 10 years as we were in USP together. He was very much a church goer back in UNI until hes graduated with Bachelor of Science in Computer studies and a very good computer programmer. Hence thats how he went in to the music business as he can compose and engineer his own songs. I graduated a year after Usufono but when I came back to Samoa I saw a very different person. First time of me seeing him with beer in a night club was an eye opener. He worked at NUS as Lab Technician and then to CSL while in the same time hes carrier in Music kicked off. He had problems and started to jump from one job to the other. Im only saying if we take time to actually get to know the person and give them the right treatment rather than resort to harsh punishment and violence, this world is a very safe place to leave.

    Here is a person that may have made some wrong decisions and mixed with the wrong people but at the end of the day he is a Samoan and a bright one indeed thats our Govt invested in his education. I hope we dont treat everyone in difficult situation like this if what is said is true because its not Samoan. Our (malu ole malo) is our assurance, asylum, cover, defense, freedom, immunity, refuge, safeness, sanctuary, security, shelter etc should be more Gentle but Strong.

    Usufono If you can read this, I know you are stronger than you think and that you can turn your life around. Sad to see such a talent go to waste. Sad to see someone with your capacity can end up like that. Pray and ask God for help, he will never forsake you. Alofa atu… J