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Five fishermen appear in District Court for violating COVID-19 Declaration

American Samoa District Court building
They went out to go drinking

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Five fishermen appeared in District Court this week accused of violating the Public Health Emergency Plan by leaving their boats while they were under quarantine.

The five fisherman are Indonesia Nationals and each was charged with one count of violating the Public Health Emergency Plan under the Governor’s Declaration for COVID-19 pandemic, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

The government alleges that on Sept. 20, 2020 around 11:24p.m, StarKist a canneries security guard called Central Police Station (CPS) in Fagatogo, in need of assistance regarding five fishermen who had left their boats while in quarantine and escaped through the front gate.

Several police officers responded to the call and interviewed the security guard.

According to the guard’s statement, it was on Sept. 16 when two fishing boats, Tenfali and Man Futsai 16A arrived on island and none of the crew were supposed to leave the boat.

However, four days after the two fishing boats arrived, on Sept. 20, the security guard said five Indonesia males escaped through the front gate and he saw them running to a night club across from the shipyard in Satala.

The security guard went inside the club to check but the owner told him there was no one inside the club.

After interviewing the security guard, the police officers, with the security guard, then proceeded to the night club and observed about 10-15 customers inside the club drinking beer. Officers gathered everyone so the security guard could identify them.

Two suspects were identified by the security guard and moments later, two other suspects were identified hiding at the back of the club, while the last suspect was found hiding in the bushes.

All five suspects were transported to the CPS and were also given masks to wear. Upon arrival at CPS they were placed on the cement wall outside CPS, to await officials from the Department of Public Health to pick them up and transport them to the quarantine site at Tafuna for 72 hours.

The five defendants were Tono War; Arifin Yusuf; Nur P. Irwan; Saputro Riyo and Dullah Rohmat — all Indonesia Nationals.

All five defendants were released on their own recognizance and their pretrial conference is next month.