Police give evidence on the death of a Faleatiu man during a police raid

Blood in one of the damaged police vehicles from the shootout with the villagers during the morning raid

By Tulifau Auvaa

APIA: TUESDAY 13 MAY 2014: The young father of seven from Faleatiu village, who was shot and killed during a police raid 7 May 2012, was not at the house that the police targeted. His dead body however, was found outside the neighbouring house.

This was explained by two senior police officers who were in the first police vehicle that targeted the two storey house.

The senior officers are the first to give evidence in the trial that started today infront of District Court Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai who ordered that the officers names and identities not be publicized.

The deceased, Rapi Sialei Lelevaga, 31 years old man from the village of Faleatiu, who lives with his parents and his wife with 7 children, and works as a farmer. He was born on the 20 of August in 1980.

According to Sialei’s mother, Kueni Lelevaga Sialei, 49 years old and mother of 12 children, she heard gunshots around 6 to 7am in the morning and she woke up her husband and children and she saw police cars on the road in front of their house.

“The sound of gunshots still continued and she hid her children inside their next room, but some of her children went outside while gunshots were still being fired at that time.”

She told the Court that after the police raid, she told her other daughter to bring the broom to clean their house which was littered with pieces of glass from the broken windows. Then she heard her daughter’s voice saying that Sialei is dead. She went inside their room and she saw Sialei’s body was lying on the ground then they took him to the hospital.”

The two senior police officers told the court that their target was the two storey house. As soon as they parked in front of the house, someone started firing at them from the top floor. One of the shots landed on the front of the vehicle which forced them to open the doors and ran for protection behind what looked like a workshop.

The police officers did not say whether they returned any gunshots.

There are 26 police officers who will give evidence in the court case that started from an incident that saw one villager dead and two police officers wounded and two police vehicles badly damaged from gunshots.

The case continues tomorrow.