BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA: MONDAY 11 NOVEMBER 2013: A Police officer denies he has ever personally pulled over Associate Minister Muagututagata Peter Ah Him.
In a letter of complaint to the Acting Commissioner of Police dated 28 October 2013, Muagututaga says he was pulled over at night and breath-tested twice in two weeks by a single officer, who he identified as Constable Manaima Patu.
The first occasion was on 8 October 2013, the second time was 25 October 2013, he says.
Muagututagata lodged his complaint after the second incident.
“Constable Manaima Patu is the same Police officer involved in the breatharlising (sic) of me on the 8 October 2013 that has caused so much furore in the media lately. This is the second time he pull (sic) me over and breathalyse (sic) me and both times are NEGATIVE,” he says in his letter of complaint.
As far as can be established, no “Constable Manaima Patu” exists – only a Senior Corporal Ma’anaima Patu.
Senior Corporal Ma’anaima Patu believes the Associate Minister is referring to him.
Muagututagata says in his complaint that he was stopped by Police on 8 October 2013.
He was not. He was stopped on 4 October.
In a sequence of events that has turned complicated and threatens to bewilder, Muagututagata told Talamua his complaint may have prompted an internal investigation by Police’s Professional Standards Unit of officers one of whom is “Constable Manaima Patu.”
To date this can’t be established as fact.
No information can be gotten from Police as to who ordered the investigation by the Professional Standards Unit and why it was ordered.
As to when it started, Senior Corporal Patu said it started before Muagututagata laid his complaint.
What is known is that Muagututagata was pulled over on 4 October by a Police patrol made up of five officers travelling in a single official vehicle.
The five officers under investigation by the Professional Standards Unit are Ioapo Isitolo, Ma’anaima Patu, Michael Vala, Tevita Vi’i and Mose Lotomau.
All were on the patrol which pulled over Muagututagata on 4 October.
On that night it was not he who dealt with Muagututagata, said Senior Corporal Patu.
It was Officers Ioapo Isitolo and Tevita Vi’i, he said.
This was supported by a report, dated 7 October 2013 written of the incident by Officer Isitolo, which Talamua obtained.
According to that report the two officers tried to breath-test the Associate Minister three times.
As they tried for a fourth time, Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Lauofo pulled up, the report says.
It mentions Fonotoe talked to Officers Isitolo and Vi’i.
Senior Corporal Patu confirmed this.
He said he spoke to Fonotoe that night as reported by Officer Isitolo’s report.
But he never spoke to Muagututagata that night, he said.
Nor did he pull over the Associate Minister on the night of 25 October as alleged, Officer Patu said.
In his complaint, Muagututagata says “Our car was single (sic) out and stopped by Constable Manaima Patu, infront of the Samoa Shipping in Matautu at 11.45pm and we saw many cars being let go by other police officers.”
Senior Corporal Patu said he was not the officer who pulled over the Associate Minister that night.
His responsibility that night was the breathalyser, he said.
Another Officer he called “Joe” had pulled over Muagututagata.
At the time he was breath-testing another motorist.
After that he walked towards the Associate Minister’s vehicle to breath-test him.
“I did Muagutuataga’s breath test after he was pulled over by another Policeman,” Senior Corporal Patu said.
He declined to comment on other allegations against him made by the Associate Minister saying his report has been handed to the Professional Standards Unit.
He won’t comment further until the unit’s investigation is ended, he said.
Muagututagata’s letter of complaint:
28 October 2013
The Acting Police Commissioner
Ministry of Police
Re: Official Complaint against the conduct of Constable Manaima Patu
I wish to lay a formal complaint against Constable Manaima Patu.
On the 25 October 2013 after arriving back from NZ at 9pm. My wife Sala Ana picked me up and our quest Mr Vinod Kumar from the airport .The three of us went to dinner at the Portofino Restaurant at Matautu . After our dinner we drove to drop off Mr Vinod Kumar to his Hotel, however our car was single out and stopped by Constable Manaima Patu, infront of the Samoa Shipping in Matautu at 11.45pm .We saw many cars being let go by other police officers.Constable Manaima Patu did not even ask me if I was drinking alcohol, he just say I have to breath in this machine ( the breathalyser );
a) I told him I just got off the plane and had not being drinking but he said pau a le mea ole feula mai le ka masigi lea . I asked him twice to change the the plastic tube mouth piece , he refuses, he insist I breathe as it is. Out of respect for the law I reluctantly breathe in this unhygienic machine.
b) I was told to breathe hard into the machine three times, and three times I asked him to show me my readings and three times he refuses. He also asked me to hold my breath longer until he said to stop ( ouke lei faiaku e kaofi lau magava ) .
c) We witness that night he used the same mouth piece on someone else without changing it. In our view his actions are irresponsible, dangerous and risky in spreading diseases.
d) The attitude of Constable Manaima Patu display that night towards me, my wife and Mr Vinod Kumar was very arrogant , rude and embarrassing for me as a member of Parliament. Mr Vinod Kumar asked me a question, quote “ Can a police officer in Samoa treat a member of Parliament like that !” I felt very embarrassed in front of my overseas guest and infront of my wife, especially I am a member of Parliament.
e) Constable Manaima Patu is the same Police officer involved in the breatharlising of me on the 8 October 2013 that has caused so much furore in the media lately. This is the second time he pull me over and breathalyse me and both times are NEGATIVE.
f) I have reliable information that constable Manaima Patu is the police officer responsible for leaking information to the Media, I also have information the motive behind Manaima Patu’s action is political and it involves senior police officers from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Contituency,
I am writing this letter in English in the interest of our quest Mr Vinod Kumar from NZ , he is a well known friend to the Arch Bishop Alapati Mataeliga and also to the Honourable Prime Minister Tuilaepa S Malielegaoi.
Mr Vinod Kumar and my wife Sala Ana are my witnesses and are both willing to have sworn Affidavits if its required.
I have a lot of respect and confidence in our Police Force, and I do respect the law of our Country as it shows in my obeying to be breath tested two times in two weeks. Both times the results are negative.
I am saddened by both incidents as I feel my Rights have been abused, I understand the Police officers are out there to enforce the Law but in this case I feel harassed and victimized.
I am expecting the Police to take disciplinary action against the officer and officers concerned.