6 Aug 2014

Samoa teacher on 23 rape charges awaits legal aid

3:21 pm on 6 August 2014

A Samoa teacher who faces more than 20 rape charges remains in custody in Tafaigata prision as he awaits legal aid representation.

36 year old Vaiaoga Leatuvao faces 23 counts of rape involving five young girls who were students of a school with special needs, before he fled the country last year.

At his court appearance this week, the Supreme Court ordered that the defendant get legal aid before he enters a plea.

Our correspondent, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says there is huge public interest in the case.

"The defendant was a sign language instructor at the school where the alleged offences happened. It was investigated by police and laid charges against him, but he left Samoa last year around July. Finally the FBI and the police in the United States was able to locate him and deported him and then he was kept in custody until he appeared on Monday in the Supreme court."

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says Vaiaoga Leatuvao covered his face from photographers after his appearance, as officers escorted him to be taken back to Tafaigata prison.

His next court appearance is on August the 18th when he is expected to make a plea.