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APIA:Murdered Samoan Cabinet Minister Trial Starts

Trial For The Murdered Samoan Cabinet Minister Starts In Apia

* See earlier Nius reports: *

19 JAN 2000 APIA (Pacnews) ---- The man convicted of the murder of a Samoan Cabinet Minister last year, Alatise Vitale, will testify that he was asked by his father Leafa Vitale, then the Minister of Women's Affairs, to kill Public Works minister Luagalau Levaula Kamu in June last year, Pacnews reports.

Alatise, who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to shooting dead Luagalau, will also testify that former Cabinet minister, Toi Aukuso, was in Leafa's office that day while he talked to his father. This was outlined in the opening statements by Attorney General, Brenda Heather-Latu, who heads the prosecution in the murder trial of the two former ministers for the death of Luagalau.

The trial started yesterday (Jan 17 - Samoa time).

Alatise is expected to further testify that Toi returned to Leafa's office as he was leaving. Heather Latu said.

Earlier, both defendants re-confirmed through counsels, their "not guilty" plea.

"You will also hear the evidence of another man who was hired to shoot Luagalau, but it would appear that his reluctance, or at least his non-performance, frustrated Toi and Leafa, and it was then that they decided to use Alatise to carry out their plan, " the Attorney General told the court.

In giving an outline of what their case will be against Leafa and Toi, the Attorney General said Alatise will testify that sometime in June 1999 he was picked up from his father's kava plantation at Vaovai at Falealili, where he worked as a labourer and taken to his father's office at government building."

"When he arrived at his father's office he found Toi Aukuso also there.

"His father then explained to his son that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Lands, Surveys and Environment, and Luagalau want to take everything away from them. And these people do not want them in the positions that they are in and they want to take his and Toi's power away."

Attorney General Latu said Vitale was promised money or a new house if he successfully carried out the job.

Meanwhile, the hitman allegedly hired by Toi Aukuso has been flown in from New Zealand to give evidence.... PNS


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