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Rumors dismissed: Australian Federal Police are not leaving Samoa any time soon

Commission of Inquiry called into conduct of Ass’t Police Commissioner Samoa Mulinuu

Apia, SAMOA — Newly appointed Acting Police Commissioner, Leiataua Fata Aviga Salale has dismissed rumors that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are leaving following an incident that occurred on Monday (Samoa Time) at the Apia Police Station during the arrest of Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil. Samoa News notes the Australian Federal Police donates equipment valued in thousands of tala and also funds projects to better the service of the police in the Samoa.

Following the arrest of the Commissioner on Monday, Samoa’s AFP Mission Commander Peter Timson attempted to visit him in the cell, however it was not allowed and this did not sit well with Timson. In a phone interview with Leiataua, he confirmed that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) continuous support to the Samoa police has not changed and they have sorted the “issues” out with Timson. Leiataua confirmed he met with Timson and everything is normal and made it clear that AFP is not leaving Samoa anytime soon.

Efforts to get a comment from Timson were unsuccessful as of press time. Meanwhile, Leiataua took the opportunity to send a message out to his subordinates that no matter the consequences the Police Force should not in any manner “disrespect the Police Commissioner.”

He declined to comment further on what occurred at the Police Station on Monday noting that he was present.

In the meantime, with the recent suspension of the Samoa’s Police Commissioner Fuiavailiili Egon Keil as well as the Assistant Police Commissioner Samoa Mulinuu within a 24-hour period, the Samoa Cabinet has stepped in and has ordered a Commission of Inquiry into Samoa’s Police Ministry.

This was revealed in the Cabinet statement issued Wednesday evening (Samoa Time). According to the Cabinet, an inquiry has been called as allowable under the law, which reviews Samoa's conduct and performance while undertaking duties as a Police Officer.

“As relayed in a press statement on Monday, the Cabinet has also suspended Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil from his duties, pending a court decision on new charges against him. Those charges, originally brought by Samoa Police, have now been transferred to the National Prosecution for processing and action. 

“The Police Service Act states that an Inquiry may be called in to the performance or capacity of a Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner. 

“Cabinet has also confirmed that the work of the Commission of Inquiry will subsequently extend to a thorough review of Samoa Police activities and services. The Inquiry will assess any breaches of duty or incapacity and will review behavior that has negatively affected the confidence of the community in the Police Service. 

“This review by the Commission of Inquiry will take place at a later date, as decided upon by Cabinet,” the statement said.

It further notes that the Cabinet also reaffirms protocols for the request, use and safekeeping of firearms by Samoa Police. 

“Any request and approval of the use of firearms must be considered first by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General and Director of the National Prosecution Office. The duties of the Police Commissioner will be rotated amongst serving Assistant Commissioners until further notice,” the statement concludes.