12 Jul 2021

Pacific Briefs for Monday July 12

5:20 pm on 12 July 2021

Samoan Man facing assassination charges could be extradited from Australia soon

A Samoan man charged with trying to assassinate Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi could be extradited from Australia within weeks.

The Brisbane Magistrates Court concluded on Friday that Talalelei Pauga is eligible for extradition to Samoa and he has again been remanded in custody.

He has 15 days to appeal the decision.

Magistrate Tina Previtera described parts of the argument put forward by the accused man's lawyer as "absurd", "rubbish" and an "attempt to delay proceedings".

Talalelei Pauga and supporters outside court in Apia

Talalelei Pauga Photo: RNZ/Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Defence lawyer George Mancini has now launched a case in the Federal Court seeking to prove the magistrate did not have jurisdiction in the case.

'Vaccinate Fiji' message not ruled out for Flying Fijians' second test

Fiji Rugby hasn't ruled out that its players could still wear a vaccination message on their jerseys in this Saturday's second test against the All Blacks.

The Flying Fijians were to wear the 'Vaccinate Fiji' message in the first test in Dunedin on Saturday, but decided against it at the last minute.

Amid surging Covid-19 infections and deaths, Fiji's government is pouring its efforts into a vaccination rollout. That includes messages to counter vaccine hesitancy.

The Flying Fijians' sponsor, Fiji Airways, gave up its advertising space to push the vaccination message last weekend.

But some players resisted the plan, saying they felt blindsided by it.

Fiji Rugby says it's disappointed, and has advised that its Chief Executive, John O'Connor, is to hold consultations with the players to see what course of action to take in this weekend's test.

Guam's 'vaccine tourists' start flying in

Visitors have begun arriving in Guam under its vaccine tourism scheme.

The 'Air V&V' scheme targets people in Asia who have been unable to access Covid-19 vaccines to visit the unincorporated US territory to get vaccinated.

Tourists are required to present a negative Covid test before flying to Guam.

Upon arrival, they must quarantine for seven days in their hotels, where they will be tested again to ensure they can receive their jab.

Following quarantine, travellers aged 12 and older can choose from Moderna, Pfizer, or single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Guam welcomed its first 153 Taiwanese visitors on Tuesday.

The Guam Visitors Bureau says Around 2,000 more Taiwanese are expected in July and August.

After reporting almost 10-thousand cases, Guam is now on top of its Covid outbreak.

It's aiming to vaccinate 80 percent of its own eligible residents by late July.

Commonwealth head speaks with the battling leaders in Samoa

The Commonwealth Secretary-General said she has spoken to both Samoa's caretaker prime minister and the prime minister-elect to discuss the political and legal standoff in the country.

Patricia Scotland has called on the political leaders to uphold the rule of law and adhere to the values and principles set out in the Commonwealth Charter.

She said she's encouraged that both parties have sought recourse for their grievances in the courts and she urges all parties to accept the decisions of the courts in their entirety.

No word when Starkist Samoa will up production

There's been no word from American Samoa tuna cannery, StarKist Samoa, about when production will return to two shifts.

The cannery announced that it would operate one shift only for two weeks beginning May 24th but it has now been six weeks.

Radio station KHJ News understands that StarKist has hired back some of the employees who were released because they were "no shows" at work during the stimulus payouts.

At a recent press conference of the Covid-19 Task Force, it was revealed that the cannery was looking to import 200 workers from Samoa under the guest worker program.

However, the recruiting efforts are going very slowly.

The radio station reports the requirement for all travellers to the territory to be fully vaccinated is a hurdle for most applicants, because of Samoa's limited vaccine programme.

Macron due in French Polynesia next week

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is expected for an official visit in French Polynesia at the end of next week after attending the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

While his official itinerary is yet to be released, media reports say Mr Macron will be the first French president to visit the Marquesas Islands.

He is expected to be in Hiva Oa and discuss a bid for the archipelago to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The president is also scheduled to visit Manihi in the Tuamotus for the launch of a power station.

Mr Macron will again meet the president Edouard Fritch who earlier this month attended a high-level roundtable on the French nuclear weapons test legacy called by Mr Macron.