Australia handover final suspect involved in conspiracy to kill ex-Samoan PM

By and is republished with permission

The final suspect in a high-profile conspiracy to murder a veteran Samoa politician was flown into Apia this morning from Australia after three years of fighting his extradition there.

Talalelei Pauga (file image) Photo: RNZ/Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Talalelei Pauga arrived early Friday morning from Australia and has been formally charged with conspiracy to murder according to deputy police commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti.

Two local officers travelled to Australia to facilitate the handover of Pauga from the Australian authorities and accompanied him back to Samoa.

He has been remanded in custody until Monday September 4 for mention.

Pauga is the fourth co-defendant and is yet to be dealt with by the Supreme Court for allegedly conspiring to murder the former prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

He has been in the custody of Australian police since August 2020 when a formal extradition application was lodged so he could answer to the charges in Samoa.

Earlier this month the Supreme Court sentenced co-defendants Malele Paulo, also known as King Faipopo, and Lemai Faioso Sione after they were found guilty of conspiring to murder Tuilaepa.

Paulo is serving four years while Lemai was given a custodial sentence of four years and six months.

Taualai on the other hand pleaded guilty to the charge in 2020 and is halfway serving his five-year jail term and also eligible for parole.

Evidence before the court stated the men had planned to murder Tuilaepa at the Siusega Catholic Cathedral in August 2019.

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