23 Jul 2020

Samoa assassination plot accused denied Australian return

8:19 am on 23 July 2020

Two men charged with conspiring to assassinate Samoa's Prime Minister have failed in their bid to return to Australia.

Lema'i Faioso Sione (left) and Malele Atofu Paulo

Lema'i Faioso Sione (left) and Malele Atofu Paulo Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Lema'i Faioso Sione and Malele Atofu Paulo, also known as King Faipopo, had applied for a bail variation, allowing them to travel back to the country where they are permanent residents.

Lema'i wanted a medical check and to be there for the birth of his first grandchild, while Malele wanted to visit his wife and children.

However the Supreme Court denied the application, finding that no medical evidence of the pregnancy was presented nor proof of the defendant's need for Australian health care.

It also found that it would be unsafe for Lema'i to travel to Melbourne, which is currently in lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It is perhaps in his best interest to stay in Covid free Samoa because people should run away from risk not towards it," the ruling said.

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson ruled no amount of surety bond would overcome the risk of the men not returning for their trial which is set to commence on 9 November.