Award-winning playwright Sia Figiel on murder charge in Samoa

Papalii Sia Figiel (Photo: Va Moana Pacific Spaces)

Details are emerging after a well-known Samoa playwright was charged with murder on Monday for allegedly stabbing a woman in Vaivase-uta last Saturday. 

Award-winning playwright Papalii Sia Figiel, 57, was earlier charged with manslaughter on Sunday, however after details of the incident that led to the death of 78-year-old Caroline Sinavaiana Gabbard emerged, the police upgraded the charge to murder. 

Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said after the preliminary investigation the police found incriminating evidence leading to the charge being upgraded.

“A hammer is alleged to have been used as well as a small knife that inflicted multiple stab wounds on the deceased,” said Auapaau. 

“We do not know what the motive is of the offending but from reports the incident occurred on Saturday and the suspect left the deceased at her home while she went out to Lotofaga and spent time with a friend. 

Police have sealed off the crime scene at Vaivase-uta that is part of the Galumoana Theatre.  Papalii is a Samoan novelist and poet whose work is published in New Zealand and has won the Best First Book award in the South East Asia/ South Pacific region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1997. She has several published works that include poems and novels.