Prime Minister’s signature is expensive

Solomon Islands riot damage. Photo: Kaylab Fari

The decision of Samoa’s Prime Minister to sign a letter in support of two convicted rapists has raised serious questions from the country’s Opposition Party Tautua Samoa. According to the Party, the Prime Minister should avoid giving away his signature in support of criminals. Fatu Seti of the Le Vasa Resort about 10 minutes west of the Faleolo International Airport was deported to New Zealand last year after a decade of hiding from New Zealand authorities over a rape charge.

He returned to Samoa where he was born and lived for most of his young life using a different identity working in the tourism industry in several jobs as an entertainer. Le Vasa Resort was where his fire knife dancing prowess attracted many tourists and locals alike. A likable character, Fatu was well known and when police finally arrested him, many were shocked to learn of his criminal past.

He had committed rape as a teenager living in New Zealand. Fatu’s mother then apparently approached the Prime Minister, also the Minister of Tourism for help to have her son returned to Samoa to serve his prison sentence. His mother asked Tuila’epa Lupesoliai Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to put in a good word for her son to help him in court. The Prime Minister did and so did the Speaker of Parliament. But that endorsement backfired because instead of the original four years he was to have served for the crime, Fatu is now serving five and a half years in an Auckland prison.

It was reported that the sentence was extended because Samoan Government leaders were accused of trying to influence the courts in New Zealand, a judgement Prime Minister Tuila’epa felt was unfair. The Opposition’s Tautua Samoa however blames the Prime Minister for meddling in the court case, resulting in the extended prison sentence. In his letter, the PM asked the court to deport Seti back to Samoa where he could serve his prison sentence because it is where his family was.

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