Three stand trial on arson charges

APIA, SAMOA – 11 JUNE 2020:  The trial of 3 men charged with arson at Taleafaga, Fagaloa started today before Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma.

The 3 defendants are Sosaiete  Fuiau, Vaafai Tulima and Pisi Atifale all of Taleafaga village.

The incident happened on the 20 September 2019 when the accused allegedly burnt down two houses, the property of Fialelei Amataga and family.

A dead wife and burnt house
Fialelei had been banned from the village for sometime but when his wife died, he went back intending to bury his wife at Taleafaga.

The Alii ma Faipule intervened reminding Fialelei that he was still banned.

A senior matai of the village Leuta Silafau testified that the village met and decided against Fialelei’s wish to bury his wife there.

Fialelei then sought the Courts assistance and an interim order was granted. The Alii ma Faipule agreed to obey the order and allowed Fialelei to do what he wanted.

“Around 1.00am, a fire destroyed Fialelei’s property and the village met in the morning over the incident and the search began for whoever did it,” said Leuta.

He said he was suspicious of his nephew, Pisi when his mother told him that Pisi had a bottle of petrol that day.

I summoned Pisi and asked him about the incident and he admitted that he did it.

Change of pleas

The investigative officer Lelefu Maatusi said all defendants signed caution statements admitting to the offence, but later denied it.

He said Va’afai admitted in his caution statement that he was not happy with Fialelei because he had won almost every court case with the village, and has taken most of the lands, and that was why he did it.

Va’afai and Sosaiete are representing themselves and Pisi is represented by lawyer Afamasaga Michael Soonalole.

The matter continues with submissions Friday.

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