BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA: FRIDAY 2 OCTOBER 2015: A senior police Superintendent is under investigation after a woman lodged a complaint against his alleged misuse of power to intimidate her.
Superintendent Tuaena Lomano who heads the traffic division is the latest to be investigated by the police Professional Standards Unit (PSU).
The Ministry of Police spokesperson Superintendent Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu confirmed the investigation against Superintendent Tuaena, but did not elaborate. He however said the investigation is based on the alleged abuse of power.
Talamua obtained a copy of the complainant’s letter sent to Police Commissioner Egon Lincoln Keil on the 31st August 2015.
The letter was also copied to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, the Minister of Police Sala Pinati, the Ombudsman, Police Assistant Commissioner Fauono Tala Tapu and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice Masinalupe Tusipa.
The letter according to the complainant Ms. Orepa Fuimaono, was to follow up on her original complaint filed with PSU last year.
“I had been waiting for quite sometime now and never received any word from police on the outcome of the investigation made and what action is being taken against Tuaena, and the other young officers who acted upon his instructions to cause unreasonable distress to me, and in particular the unlawful lock up at Tafaigata on a matter purely civil and without a court order,” said Ms. Fuimaono.
Ms. Fuimaono believes that unless justice is done, the police service will always be questioned and criticized, and the public continue to suffer.
At the time of the alleged incident, Superintendent Tuaena was working from Tafaigata prison.
Ms. Fuimaono said because Superintendent Tuaena was working from prison, it was easy for him to send police officers to arrest and lock her up without any court order.
She admitted that she owed Tuaena and his wife arrears of $525.00 of unpaid lease on the house she was renting at the time.
“The matter was dealt with between Tuaena’s wife and myself,” said Ms. Fuimaono.
“Tuaena then cautioned me that he was very upset about my outstanding debt and that I should know better that he is a police officer with the power to lock me up for failing to pay my outstanding rent,” Ms. Fuimaono stated in the letter.
On 2 separate occasions, Ms. Fuimaono was picked up and placed under custody at Tafaigata.
On one occasion, Ms. Fuimaono was at Tafaigata but later transferred to Faleata police outpost where all her information were recorded before returning to spend the night in prison.
She was later transferred to Apia to await the arrival of a registrar to release her and was told by the registrar to appear at Court on the 18th March 2014.
“I objected to the hearing because I have already entered an agreement with Tuaena’s wife on the proposed payment of the debt,” said Ms. Fuimaono.
However, in Court, she was ordered to negotiate payment with Tuaena within 14 days.
On the 5th April 2014, she paid $200.00 to Tuaena’s wife, but on the 7th April 2014, she was served with another summon to appear in Court.
She went but her name was not in the list and a Court official advised her to check with the registrar.
“It was surprising that the CEO Masinalupe came and conducted inquiries about my matter, but there was nothing in the system to indicate the reality of my case,” stated Ms. Fuimaono.
“CEO Masinalupe then told me to pay the $200,00 but to lodge a complaint to the PSU against Tuaena for abusing his power to influence matters to his personal advantage,” said Ms. Fuimaono.
In May 28 and 29, police were again sent to arrest her but instead of taking her to Tafaigata where Tuaena was, the police officer who went to arrest her took her to see then Acting Commissioner Fauono Talalelei Tapu.
According to Ms. Fuimaono, after listening to her story, Fauono then called Tuaena but could not get him, then he summoned the police officers who were sent to arrest her.
“He (Fauono) apologized to me for the mistreatment by police and directed me to go straight to the PSU to lodge a complaint against Tuaena for abuse of power and abuse of process, ” said Ms. Fuimaono.
Ms. Fuimaono’s complaint was lodge in May last year and her follow up letter to Commissioner Keil in August 2015 has prompted PSU to investigate.