25 Nov 2009

Samoan man awaits sentencing after seven-year escape to NZ

7:24 pm on 25 November 2009

Police have returned to Samoa a man who fled to New Zealand seven years ago while awaiting sentencing for manslaughter.

Ropati Nauer was able to leave the country in 2002 despite the confiscation of his travel documents, because his sister Luisa Westerlund obtained another passport for him.

Westerlund and her husband Ricky, who helped transport him to the airport, were later jailed for conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says Nauer was able to hide out in New Zealand for seven years until now.

"I've been told by some sources in the police that since being a member of Interpol last month and also the Transnational Crimes Unit, the Pacific Unit is based in Samoa, the police here managed to arrest him in New Zealand and brought him back to face that sentence of manslaughter."

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says Nauer is currently in the high security wing of Tafaigata prison and is scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court on Monday, where he could face fresh charges related to his escape.