4 May 2020

Samoan lawyer says PM puts himself above the law

12:21 pm on 4 May 2020

A lawyer representing two people accused of attempting to assassinate Samoa's Prime Minister claims Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi is putting himself above the law.

Malele Atofu and lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu

Malele Atofu and lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu Photo: RNZ Pacific /Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Posting on social media, Unasa Iuni Sapolu said Tuilaepa had given himself special treatment by writing to the CEO of the Ministry of Justice to ask why Lema'i Faioso Sione and Malele Atofu Paulo were released on bail.

The lawyer's comments come after the letter was published in the Sunday Samoan newspaper.

The prime minister raised concerns over the supreme court release of the two accused without having to pay bail and wrote about police worries that a defendant could flee the country while on bail.

But Unasa Iuni Sapolu questioned the motive behind the letter copied to the acting chief judge and two other judges, including the President of the Lands and Titles court.

She said other complainants could not do the same by writing to the CEO of the courts.

The lawyer claimed the actions clearly showed Tuilaepa had put himself above the law.

"It also appears the prime minister meddling in using his position to press for revenge on the accused, granted bail being granted.

"The prime minister is also attempting to violate the fundamental rights of the accused to a fair trial by asking for earlier trial dates than the dates set down by the court," Unasa said.