The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has defended his decision to file defamation court charges against Australian based anti-Government online blogger, Malele Paulo alias King Faipopo.
The PM was implicated in ‘serious allegations’ made by the defendant in the 1999 assassination of the late Luagalau Levaula Kamu, the Minister of Works at the time in the Tuilaepa Cabinet.
“People may ask why I as PM am so determined to take the allegations seriously….but as the leader of the country I had to, it was a must,” he declared on his weekly media talk on national radio yesterday.
“The dignity, respect and trust of the country on myself as the PM and father of the country are on my shoulders.
“The eyes of the outside world are also on me as leader of the country ….what would they say to these serious allegations that I am supposedly involved in?”
Tuilaepa argued that he had no other choice but to clear up his good name against the serious allegation by the defendant that he killed Luagalau.
There were other serious defamatory statements as well of stealing from Government, taking customary land and bringing into the country a container of illegal guns.
“The allegations weighed heavily on me because if I say nothing the leaders of the world watching from the outside will believe they are true
“Be very mindful as well that if I don’t speak out then I disrespect the dignity and trust of the leadership in Samoa, Government, church and the whole country.”
He felt that bringing Paulo into court was the best option also for the defendant to take so he could bring in his evidence to prove his allegations.
The PM said he was prepared for whatever the consequences of what comes out in the evidence before the court.
“If the court finds me guilty then I have to resign. I can no longer stay on if I have corrupted the integrity of the Office before God and Samoa.”
He felt compelled to clear his name so as not to bring shame to his family and especially to his children.
“ After taking all of these factors into consideration I was determined to turn up in court to testify and clear my name against these serious allegations against me.”
Malele Paulo pleaded guilty in court at the start of the week to the charges of defamation brought by Tuilaepa against him.
Court is yet to hand down a ruling on the defendant’s admission of guilt.
The allegations and court hearing, however, has reopened the events that transpired 2 decades ago on the 9 July 1999 at the St. Joseph’s College Hall, Lotopa.
The PM went over the night when the HRPP celebrated its 20th anniversary when Luagalau was shot and killed backstage at the college hall.
The slain Minister was the Master of Ceremony for the night and he had just introduced the Prime Minister for his address as leader of the party when he was gunned down.
“I was just starting my speech when I heard a loud cracking sound go off, at first I thought it was one of those crackling noises that normally bursts from a loudspeaker.
“ But it was only when I saw people moving towards the back of the stage that I decided to check and saw the Minister's body on the floor covered in blood.”
Tuilaepa recalled the successful investigations by the police of the assassin and the sending of a key witness and his family to New Zealand for personal protection, until the court hearing that was opened to everyone.
He remembered former MP Toi Aukuso admitting in court that he was part of the conspiracy to assassinate Luagalau together with Leafa Vitale who masterminded the killing.
He said Toi walked away wanting nothing to do with the planned killing and if he had spoken out earlier to him about it, he would not have ended up in prison together with Leafa.
The Prime Minister spoke at length to reject the serious allegations made against him about the killing that has remained, arguably the biggest shock of a criminal act for the country..
He pointed out that his name was on the assassins list also along with the now retired Chief Justice Patu and the Minister of Environment at the time, Tuala Kerslake.
‘Everything about the police investigations were revealed in open court. Nothing was hidden from anyone or the court.”