Samoan News, Tala Samoa
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research works with Samoan village
A unique pilot project to help Samoas largest village better cope with natural disaster is the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Samoa timed to coincide with a major United Nations conference in Apia.
A unique pilot project to help Samoa’s largest village better cope with natural disaster is the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Samoa timed to coincide with a major United Nations conference in Apia.
The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States opens on 1 September and is expected to attract about 3000 international delegates.
The pilot project was initiated by NIWA marine geologist Geoffroy Lamarche and Wellington architect Cécile Bonnifait. It aims to help the Samoan community build its resilience to natural disasters and proposes some new building solutions that take into account Samoan culture and local materials.
It focuses on the village of Sa’anapu on the south coast of Samoa’s main island, Upolo and combines expertise in science, anthropology and architecture. The village was badly affected by the 2009 tsunami, during which near 150 people lost their lives, and Cyclone Evans in late 2012.
Much of the village is built on a sand berm bounded by mangroves and a fringing reef. Both mangroves and the reef have highly prized ecological, economic and cultural values for the village. Rising sea levels are causing erosion and retreat of the sand berm, meaning the village has been progressively moving but not in a controlled or planned manner. Early engagement with the council of Matais (chiefs) of Sa’anapu has enabled everyone to work towards developing a stronger future for the village.
The exhibition will showcase some of the work already completed and includes physical models of new village facilities that it is hoped will be built at Sa’anapu. NIWA has been involved in assessing the potential impact of a tsunami on the village, by generating a numerical model of a tsunami originating from the Tonga Trench, and in estimating frequency of natural disasters.
Other components of the project include planning for a community centre that transforms into an emergency shelter during natural disasters, relocation of a pre-school outside the high hazard area, and training Samoan experts to continue collecting survivor stories.
Dr Lamarche says the relationships between the natural environment and the architectural and social environments are rarely accounted for in projects involving coastal island communities.
“We are merging research, creativity, construction and knowledge transfer in a very exciting way. But what makes this pilot project really special is its focus on finding modern solutions that retain and preserve the cultural heritage, history and traditions of the village.”
Ms Bonnifait says they want to create a new focal point for the village by creating a community building that is a contemporary adaption of traditional Samoan architecture. Those involved have been working alongside local Matai to learn more about the village history, and with craftsmen, guardians of the traditional building techniques.
“The engagement the people of Sa’anapu is crucial to the success of this conceptual project. We were fortunate that the council of Matai of the village was willing to collaborate with us. One of the orators – Popese Leaana (Tupu) – has a unique skill set that combines excellent technical expertise of local and traditional construction and a direct knowledge of the effects of climate change and natural hazards on the village. ”
Funding for the early stages of the project has been a joint effort between NIWA and the Pacific Fund, created in 1985 by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to promote social, economic, scientific and cultural development and integration in the Pacific.
The exhibition opens at the Museum of Samoa on 28 August and runs until 24 October 2014. The official opening will be on September 1 and will be attended by Samoa, New Zealand, France and New Caledonia dignitaries as well as many Sa’anapu residents. Dr Lamarche says the next stage of the project is to secure more funding so that this conceptual project can progress to a feasibility stage.
The exhibition opens at the Museum of Samoa on 28 August and runs until 24 October. The official opening will be on September 1 and will be attended by Samoa, New Zealand, France and New Caledonia dignitaries as well as many Sa’anapu residents. Dr Lamarche says the next stage of the project is to secure more funding so that this conceptual project can progress to a feasibility stage.
Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Media bill tabled in Samoa
A bill establishing a media council in Samoa is now before the Parliament after being tabled by the Prime Minister.
The Media Council Bill would make the media body, the Journalism Association of Western Samoa, as the implementing body of the council, which would then act as an independent professional association.
Legislation drafters have moved to abolish the criminal libel laws under the Crimes Act and amend the Printers and Publishers Act to ensure the protection of journalists' sources.
The Media Council will also investigate public complaints and introduce a Code of Practice and Code of Ethics.
A member of JAWS and lecturer at the National University of Samoa, Misa Vicky Lepou, says the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, tabled the bill yesterday, and it's hoped there will be debate on the bill before Parliament ends today.
She says if not, the bill will be debated in the next session.
Lolo favours American Samoa constitution change
American Samoa's Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says the time is right to change the constitution in order to give the Fono veto override authority of legislative measures.
At present if a bill that was vetoed by the governor is approved again by the Fono, the governor sends the bill with his comments to the US Secretary of the Interior who makes the final decision on whether the bill is signed into law.
Under the constitutional amendment, if the governor vetoes a bill, each chamber can pass the bill again and if passed, the governor must sign the bill into law.
The proposed amendment will be on the ballot in November and the governor has urged directors to help make sure voters understand what the amendment provides.
Lolo says the US Department of Interior will support what the public wants.
Mystery virus affects nearly 100 in Samoa
Samoa's Ministry of Health says nearly 100 people have now been affected by a mystery virus.
Two people have also died from but authorities still aren't exactly sure what the virus is.
Samoan Ministry of Health's Dr Saaine Vaai told Pacific Beat patients are showing signs of two separate illnesses.
"Well initially we thought we were seeing acute fever and rash, which is one of the things we do look for," she said.
"But as of Saturday we did get the confirmation of some of the specimens that we sent out for chikungunya.
"We're still waiting for other specimen confirmation."
In neighbouring American Samoa there have been more than 300 confirmed cases of chikungunya and authorities say a traveller between the two countries brought some strain of the virus to Samoa.
Dr Vaai says a public campaign to raise awareness about the outbreak and educate people about precautions to take has begun.
"This is the first time that we've have had this virus in the country and we are working with experts from WHO (World Health Organisation) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to control it," she said.
Officials say five people have been admitted to hospital with symptoms of the virus.
American Samoa and Samoa have Pacific's cheapest fuel
The latest edition of the Pacific Fuel Price Monitor has shown American Samoa and Samoa to have the lowest fuel costs in the region.
The monitor found prices in many Pacific countries are far cheaper than those in much bigger markets like Australia and New Zealand.
Petroleum advisor at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Alan Bartmanovich told Pacific Beat that although most Pacific countries are getting fuel from the same import shipments, American Samoa and Samoa have much better deals in place.
"They own their own fuel facilities and the oil companies have to come to them to make the deals if they want to sell fuel in their countries," he said.
"In American Samoa and Samoa people actually have to go to the government and ask permission to deal there. And in that negotiation they make sure that they get the best prices available.
"As opposed to other places which have permanent suppliers and the oil companies own the facilities and are pretty much in control of the markets."
Fiji was a close third for low fuel costs in the region.
Mr Bartmanovich says other Pacific countries are starting to learn lessons from American Samoa on how to deal with the big oil companies.
"If the governments want it to happen it can happen," he said.
He says concerns about striking specific deals with oil companies and having less competitive marketplaces are warranted.
But he says he has a simple answer.
"People have said 'oh, if you make it not competitive or they (oil companies) make less money they're going to leave' and I said 'well yeah, but I don't know any place in the world where there is a demand for oil and there isn't somebody willing to supply them'."
Once local taxes are taken into account, American Samoa still has the lowest fuel prices. But Samoa falls down the list.
Kiribati is the second cheapest when tax is included and Guam third.
Wallis and Futuna holds the mantle for the most expensive fuel in the region, with Cook Islands not far behind.
Palau and Guam are the clear leaders for charging the least amount of tax.
Dr. Aiono Faanafi le Tagaloa has passed away.
BY Lance Polu
APIA: THURSDAY 07 AUGUST 2014: Distinguished educator, scholar and historian Aiono Professor Fanaafi Le Tagaloa passed away peacefully at the National Hospital last night. The passing was confirmed to the media by her husband and former Cabinet Minister Le Tagaloa Pita. Born 25 June 1932, the 82 year old was a pioneering Samoan educator who obtained a PhD in educational philosophy and applied linguistics from the University of London.
An authority on Samoan culture and language, she is one of the most educated female chief (matai), scholar, historian and professor of Samoa studies.
She has been instrumental in formulating and implementing bi-cultural and bi-lingual education in Samoa, in particular, during her tenure as Director of Education for the government as the country moved from colonial rule to political independence in the early 1960s. She has held other senior positions in education in Samoa, including Principal of the Samoa Teacher’s College and Professor of Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa.
Her distinguished career includes politics and she is a former Member of Parliament in Samoa, having first entered parliament at the 1985 general election under the Human Rights Protection Party. In 1997, she founded the Indigenous University of Samoa. The university curriculum is taught in the Samoan language with qualifications in Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees.
During her tenure as Director of Education, she removed the signatures that have been developed by the expatriate Christian missionaries to make it easier to identify the right pronunciation of Samoan words.
Her argument was that Samoans who fully understand the language have no need for such signatures. But the result has been in the reverse with the major culprits such as the broadcast media that have resorted to offering alternative pronunciation of people’s and villages’ names due to uncertainty of the right pronunciation.
Her funeral service according to husband Le Tagaloa Pita will be confirmed when her children and relatives arrive from overseas.
Samoa records 269 affected chikungunya fever cases
The number of people affected by chikungunya in Samoa has increased from 51 to 269 in the last two weeks.
The Ministry of Health Director General, Leausa Tole'afoa Dr Take Naseri, says an ongoing clean up and spraying of mosquito breeding sites is continuing with aircraft and ships being sprayed.
He says laboratory tests have shown two deaths thought to be caused by chikungunya were not.
3,000 people from around the world are expected in Apia from later this week week for a major UN conference, and the Ministry has said it hopes to have the outbreak under control by then.
Samoa gets pat on the back from UN for SIDS preparation
Samoa has been congratulated by a senior United Nations official for its preparations for next week's Small Islands Developing States Conference.
The UN's Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, who arrived in Apia on Sunday, has commended the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, for spearheading preparations for the conference.
In a joint news conference, Prime Minister Tuilaepa says 3 thousand people are expected to attend next week's event with 20 government leaders expected to participate.
American Samoa objects to Obama conservation plan
Owners of longline fishing boats in American Samoa say the US President's proposal to expand an ocean conservation area in the Pacific will damage the territory's fishing and tuna canning industry.
In a letter to Barack Obama, the Tautai o Samoa Longline and Fishing Association says it strongly believes the move is needless and will serve no purpose in the President's efforts to combat overfishing.
The Association points out that the US commercial fishing fleet in the Pacific targets highly migratory pelagic species and President Obama's proposal for the intention of preservation would be meaningless.
It says American Samoa as a hub of the Pacific US fishing fleets faces dire consequences should this expansion take effect.
Guam - As a result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage Hour Division, the American Samoa Government agreed to pay $177,300 in predominantly overtime back wages to 111 workers employed throughout the government by Aug. 27.
The American Samoa Government also failed to pay an additional 1,491 workers for 133,354 overtime hours worked. These back wages will be paid back to the affected workers throughout the year.
"The latest findings reflect our continuing collaborative efforts with American Samoa government officials to correct past deficiencies in the manner in which work hours were recorded and paid," said Terence Trotter, the division's district director in Hawaii.
"We will continue to train their staff on the compliance principles of the Fair Labor Standards Act."
Call for more action on Chik in American Samoa
Health officials have told a Senate committee in Pago Pago that the total number of people infected by chikungunya had reached 501 compared to about 390 two weeks ago.
Senator Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono says it is time for health officials to seek help from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
However our correspondent Monica Miller says the Department of Health reports it has done a major clean up in villages and the department is in touch with CDC officials on a weekly basis.
"I think it is beginning to stabilise according to the numbers. They are just stressing that - there is no cure for this. The key is prevention and I think people are now more aware of what is going on."
Our correspondent, Monica Miller.
Kolhase found not guilty of manslaughter in deaths of 2 due to car accident
“I don't accept the verdict. Let God be the judge of this matter”
Tears were aplenty in and outside the Supreme Court late yesterday evening where 19-year-old, Leslie Kohlhase, was found not guilty of four charges against her.
The verdict, delivered by four assessors after less than two hours of deliberation, was greeted by sighs of relief by Kohlhase, her legal team and supporters.
Kohlhase had pleaded not guilty to two charges of manslaughter and two alternative charges of negligent driving causing death.
The crash at Vailoa last year, which led to the charges against her, caused the deaths of Jessie Risale, 22, of Vaimoso and Thesaurus Heather, 20, of Tufuiopa.
Last evening, all four assessors were convinced that she was not the driver of the vehicle that morning. In doing so, they found her not guilty of all the charges.
The verdict followed two days of final submissions by lawyers.
Kohlhase was represented by Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke and Unasa Leilani Tamati. They are up against the prosecution team made up of Precious Chang and Leone Su’a
Mailo, of the Attorney General’s Office.
The Chief Justice, his Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, presided.
The prosecution claimed that they had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Kohlhase indeed drove the vehicle that crashed and killed the two young men last year.
Further, they argued that it had established quite clearly that the accused drove recklessly, endangering the lives of people in the car.
But Leiataualesa disagreed. He reiterated that Kohlhase did not drive the vehicle when it crashed.
Kohlhase’s lawyer said evidence throughout the past three weeks had proven that her client was not the driver when the crash happened.
In the end, the assessors agreed with Lei’ataualesa.
Chief Justice Patu later dismissed all the charges against the defendant.
Neither Lei’ataua, nor his client or any of her relatives would speak to the media after yesterday’s verdict.
Outside the Court room, however, the mother of the late Thesaurus Schuster Heather, May Heather, was in tears.
“I don't accept the verdict,” she said. “This is really not fair for our families. There is still no justice.”
Ms. Heather said she understood that the assessors could have found the defendant not guilty of some of the charges but to have acquitted her of all the charges was simply unacceptable.
“So I’m very disappointed with the verdict.”
Asked if they would appeal, she said they would have to think about it.
For now though, she said: “Let God be the judge of this matter.”
Chik Virus is still spreading in American Samoa
More cases of chikungunya, or chik, virus have been recorded in American Samoa.
The Health Department Director Motusa Tuileama Nua says there are now more than 390 recorded cases of chikungunya, with seven patients hospitalised and no deaths since July the 1st.
That is an increase in confirmed cases of about 45 over the last week.
In an updated health alert, health officials say the chik virus usually lasts one to two weeks but joint pain and stiffness can last many weeks or months.
It says other complications are rare and it pointed out that there is no cure for chik virus.
The government has now set up a chikungunya hotline for residents to call and the health alert urged affected residents not to travel outside Tutuila, even to the territory's Manu'a island group.
Health Alert after two AFR deaths in Samoa
Samoa's Ministry of Health has reported two deaths from Acute Fever and Rash or AFR, saying it is now an outbreak with most cases coming from the Apia urban area.
A press statement from the Director General, Leausa Toleafoa Dr Take Naseri, says there have been 21 recorded AFR cases as of Tuesday this week with four people hospitalised at Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital.
Three children aged between 2 and 13 and one 45-year-old man were admitted to the intensive care unit.
The ministry says collaboration with other government agencies, and media campaigns, aim to raise awareness of the outbreak and help its containment.
Samoa has also sought assistance from the Ministry of Health's development partners including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the World Health Organisation.
American Samoa’s Governor Lolo Moliga back after five months absence
PAGOPAGO, Americana Samoa ---- After five months absence, American Samoa’s Governor Lolo Letalu Moliga has returned to the territory.
The governor left in February for a meeting in Washington D.C. but fell ill and was admitted to hospital.
The government hasn’t given any information on his illness but media reports says it’s understood he had a heart procedure while in hospital in D.C.
The Governor later travelled to Honolulu where he was also admitted to hospital and had been there since undergoing treatment as an out-patient.
The Governor has returned as the Senate is drafting a resolution questioning his extended absence.
300 plus chikungunya cases in American Samoa
The American Samoan Department of Health says there are now more than 300 confirmed cases of chikungunya or 'chik' virus in the territory.
The Health Director Motusa Tuileama Nua says his department and LBJ hospital have confirmed the outbreak of fever, rashes and joint pains among people on the main island of Tutuila is due to chikungunya.
He says there have been 343 recorded cases, with six patients hospitalised and no deaths, since the beginning of July.
He recommends those who are ill with fever and body aches do not travel off island.
iTunes in Samoa to team up with UN to showcase music from small island nations
25 August 2014 – Ahead of a major United Nations conference in Samoa on small island developing countries, iTunes has teamed up with the UN to create a dedicated page on the popular site – launched today – featuring music from artists born and raised in some of the world’s smallest islands.
The "Island Voices" initiative (www.iTunes.com/islandvoices) showcases the eclectic range of works of 57 musicians from the world’s small island nations and features their songs, which can be easily accessed and purchased from the online iTunes Store.
Drawing attention to the Third United Nations Conference on the Small Island Developing States , scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 September in the Samoan capital, Apia, the iTunes partnership also coincides with the 2014 International Year of Small Island Developing States , which has been designated by the UN to celebrate the remarkable diversity, culture and heritage of small islands throughout the world.
The dedicated page on iTunes aims to promote the diversity of music from the islands and its contribution to international music, and will feature the best works from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, celebrate many of gifted singers and songwriters and promote music across multiple genres, from reggae to calypso, and from hip-hop to jazz and dance.
Among the well-known icons included on the iTunes page are Bob Marley (Jamaica), Rihanna (Barbados), Cèsaria Evoria (Cape Verde) and Ibrahim Ferrer (Cuba).
‘Island Voices’ will also spotlight lesser known musicians, such as Vanessa Quai from the Republic of Vanuatu, Dilli Allstars from Timor-Leste, Rosalia from Fiji and Imany Mladja, from Comoros.
In a video-message on the iTunes page, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasizes that artists from the small island developing States are among the “giants in musical history.”
“Every day, island voices are heard all across the planet through music. They represent the spirit and aspiration of the people” said Mr. Ban. “Music helps connect these beautiful islands to the wilder world, influencing global popular culture” he added.
The partnership was initiated by the UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), which worked with Permanent Missions of small island States and iTunes’ specialist music curators to create a list of songs and artists that reflect the variety and the quality of these 57 islands and their culture.
“One of the chief challenges that all islands face is remoteness, and as such, connectivity to the wider world is a key challenge. iTunes is arguably the largest megaphone in the world, and what better opportunity to showcase the extraordinary and vibrant musical heritage from the small islands” said Ricardo Dunn, Advocacy and Outreach Officer for UN-OHRLLS.
Two days before the official conference on the Small Island Developing States next week, UN-OHRLLS has organized a Private Sector Partnership Forum in Samoa, and hopes that this will be the first of many innovative initiatives to be announced that will benefit small island nations.
Samoa’s leading recycler says there is money to be made in car tyres and plastic bottles if the country can recycle them on-island.
SAMOA --- Pacific Recycles manager Silafau Ioane Sio says that tyres and plastic bottles have a low value on the recycling market so processing them on-island is the key to managing this growing waste problem in Samoa.
“There are more cars on the roads and more plastic bottles than ever before but we don’t have the machines to process them here and to export them is expensive when you consider the small return. We need to diversify.”
Silafau says he has been working with an Australian company to look at the viability of recycling in Samoa but the cost of the machines is too expensive without and investor or donor assistance.
“I’ve seen recycling companies in Japan make oil from plastic, and He says he would also like to see Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) brought into Samoa.
This legislation would see importers paying a levy for each container imported. This cost would be passed onto the consumer who will receive a portion of that levy as a refund on the return of the container. The remaining part of the levy is often used to fund the cost of processing returned containers.
Already Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment have attended trainings on implementing this type of legislation run by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
SPREP estimates that in the Pacific municipal solid waste is composed of 60 per cent organic, 35 per cent potentially recyclable - equalling about 760,000 tonnes per year – and five per cent categorized as other.
Palau has had its legislation since 2011. One of the unique features of that legislation in Palau is the high deposit per container (US10c), which allows the government to refund, operate and save extra money at the "Recycling Fund" to cover the expenses of waste management activities.
Since bringing container deposit legislation Palau, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati have recycled more than 37.2 million containers. It has also seen positive spin-offs in the way of business development, job creation, less waste to landfill and less litter.
Pacific Recycles handles about 25 per cent of total recyclable waste in Samoa, according to Silafau.
The private company has cages for bottle and can collection at sites around central Upolu including a number of schools. It also regularly receives recyclables from people who sort through Tafaigata Landfill.
“Some schools such as Samoa Primary, Robert Louis Stevenson and Fa’atuatua are very good with their segregation. I think it is part of their environmental education.”
When asked if he was open to the idea of village collection programmes for cash, he said he was happy to take enquiries from rural villages. “I guess for them it is a little bit of income and it also deals with a litter problem.”
Pacific Recycles started seven years ago with a staff of four and now has a staff of 23 and an office in Savaii as well. The recycler also handles scrap metal, aluminum cans and plastic bottles from Tokelau.
Tuilaepa: ‘Bless you market’ as new Fugalei Market opens
By Tupuola Terry Tavita
Government officially took delivery of the new Fugalei market Monday morning.
Delivering the keynote address Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi sublated into lyrical of the new marketplace;
“Bless you market. A jewel whom much has been said about. Some good, most, downright ugly. Yet, you surprise us all. You stand here big, tall and beautiful in all your wondrous glory. To defy your many critics leaving them in utter embarrassing shame.”
The Prime Minister thanked the Minister of the Accident Compensation Corporation, Lautafi Selafi Feo Purcell, the ACC board and staff for their perseverance.
“This market is especially designed to suit our township, the weather and climate conditions in Samoa and, especially, the nature of our people.
There will be no more shops around it that will hinder the flow of fresh air into this market. There will be no walls so that sellers and buyers can move freely from east, west, north and south.
“It will be circumvented with a road so that drivers don’t have to get out of their cars. They just shout out what they want. A bunch of talo, a bunch of bananas and the crops will immediately fly into the back of their pickups. “
“Nobody will need to sell their items outside in the sun and rain. They will all be sheltered in here, which is twice the size of the old market. So no seller will get sick anymore.”
The Prime Minister said the initial plan was a two-storeyed walled marketplace at a cost of $42 million.
“However, when Cabinet had a look at those concept plans, it was declined for this more practical single-floor structure. At a cost of no more than $10 million.”
The project was contracted to Qingdao Construction with subcontracts to Rasmussen Designs and Bluebird Construction.
As enticement, the ACC is gifting farmers free rent for a whole month starting tomorrow.
Two suspects arrested in Gold Conda stick up
By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu
Two of the three men who allegedly robbed the Gold Conda store in Faga’alu at gun point were arrested by Detectives of the Criminal Investigation Division led by Assistant Chief of Police, Lavat’ai Ta’ase Sagapolutele who’s the CID Commander. The two men, who are now in police custody, are Alatuna Simi (left) and Samuelu Wright (right). photo: Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu]
Two of the three men who allegedly robbed the Gold Conda store in Faga’alu back in May — at gun point— leaving the cashier shaken, have been arrested by detectives of the Criminal Investigation Division led by Assistant Chief of Police, Lavat’ai Ta’ase Sagapolutele who’s also the CID Commander.
The two men now in police custody are Alatuna Simi and Samuelu Wright, and they will make their initial appearance in the District Court today. The male suspects have been charged with robbery first degree and stealing, with bail set at $100,000.
The third suspect, who is alleged to have been the driver, has yet to be found and charged.
According to the government’s case, on May 1, 2014 around 1:14a.m., police received a call concerning an armed robbery and when police arrived at the scene, the female Asian cashier appeared traumatized and the EMS was contacted for assistance.
During initial investigation by Sgt Siliaivao Sea, a white and gold two- toned truck with nice rims and a white tarp covering the trunk was seen driving back and forth near the scene several times. (The truck is later identified in the court documents as a “white Ford F-150” by one of the witnesses.)
Court filings say that police viewed video footage and saw the first masked suspect — who was later identified as Samuelu Wright — enter the store holding a shot gun, which he pointed at the cashier. Wright, as seen in the video of the robbery, was “wearing a tan long sleeved shirt with a Halloween type mask covering his face.”
It’s alleged the second suspect, later identified as Alatuna Simi, came in wearing a “t-shirt over his face, with a colorful hat (Jamaican style)” and jumped over the counter grabbing what appeared to be a box from underneath the cash register. He jumped back over the counter and left the store.
The government’s case claims that at that time, Wright allegedly reached into the cash register and took money out, and exited the store. It’s alleged when Wright and Simi left the store, they took off running.
A witness told Commander Lavata’i that he saw the third suspect (who is still at large) and this suspect was believed to be the driver of a white Ford F-150.
The witness further stated that he heard the third suspect asking someone for a phone card. Another witness told police that she saw the truck driving back and forth and she recognized the driver, as his wife works for the hospital. The woman told the police the license plate of the vehicle was #6482, and it was later identified that the owner is the wife of the third suspect.
The female witness identified the driver as the third suspect in this case.
Police interviewed the cashier who was visibly shaken and upset. She told police that when the suspect pointed the gun at her, he demanded that she open the cash register. She told police that the suspects took $1,200. However, an inventory later revealed that $360 was the amount missing from the night of the alleged robbery.
Police conducted a search of the truck but did not find anything pertaining to the robbery.
According to the government’s case, CID received a tip from a female, who claimed that she was affiliated with Simi. The female told police that when she met up with Simi, he told her of his involvement in a robbery, where he claimed that “he was on a mission.”
The female learned from the media that surveillance video footage had been confiscated and then it is alleged Simi told the girl about the three of them who were involved and said he received $100 from the robbery.
Court filings say that CID interviewed Simi who stated that on the night of the robbery he was at the hospital visiting a friend and when he headed to the intersection to catch a ride to go see his girlfriend in Malaeloa, he saw another friend, the third suspect in his truck.
Simi told police that when he got into the truck, he saw Wright in the back seat and when he asked the driver to take him to Malaeloa, the driver said he would have to wait “until they are done with their mission.”
Simi asked about the mission and the driver allegedly said, “to rob Gold Conda store to get cash.” It’s alleged Simi said he was hesitant as the Gold Conda is within his village. It’s alleged that Simi further told the police that the three of them drove back and forth in front of the Gold Conda store ‘scanning the surroundings of the Gold Conda Store.”
Simi also told police that his direction from Wright was to grab bundles of cash from underneath the cashier’s counter.
He also said that he observed Wright “loading the shotgun with four 12 gauge shells while at the bay shore area, getting ready to engage in their mission.”
Court filings say that when Commander Lavata’i questioned Wright he allegedly admitted that he was only recruited to be involved in the robbery after receiving a phone call from Suspect 3, identified as the driver of the alleged getaway vehicle.
Wright also allegedly admitted that he and the driver fetched the shotgun from the driver’s house and went to the Gold Conda store with the gun. He also allegedly admitted that he was the one who pointed the gun at the cashier and that he received $120 as his cut from the robbery.
- See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/content/en/two-suspects-arrested-gold-conda-stick#sthash.WUwHqAV8.dpuf