Prime Minster Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has downplayed a mass prison break plot, which the Police foiled on Friday, as Cyclone Gita was speeding towards Samoa.
While the nation was being warned to prepare for the cyclone, some 90 Police officers were called to Tafa’igata Prison to calm the situation.
“When a natural disaster is about to strike the country, often criminals find that this is the right time to strike too,” Tuilaepa said.
“However the Police have always acted in accordance with keeping the peace and the situation has been sorted.”
Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, in response to questions from the Sunday Samoan, said the Police responded after receiving reports about the threat.
“We responded to information by Prisons Authority relating to a planned mass prison break involving coordinated efforts by prisoner’s hierarchy,” he said.
“This matter has now been averted and the police are working to support the Prisons authority in their efforts to secure the prisons.”
The Police also used the opportunity to raid the prison.
“We conducted a raid inside the Prison and discovered more than 30 marijuana joints and stash of cash.”
Auapa’au confirmed that three prisoners were taken in for further questioning.
“That is all I can say for now, now please let me get back to the work.”
Pressed as to who was behind the alleged threats and if there were any weapons found inside the prison, Auapa’au declined to comment.
“There were no weapons found and an investigation is underway. Understand that there are certain issues that I cannot divulge at this time.”
During an interview with the Sunday Samoan, Tuilaepa said the threat was minimal.
“I don’t believe in any of those things.”
The Prime Minister said his priority was to ensure the nation was prepared for the cyclone.
He revealed that when the issue was brought to his attention, as the Minister of Police, he instructed the Police to do what they needed to do.
Asked about the possibility of the Prisons being transferred back under the umbrella of the Ministry of Police, Tuilaepa said: “The government’s policies will not change over this. We have to remember that with any changes, there are also teething problems.
“However that does not necessarily mean that the issue will stop.
“Also keep in mind these are two different things, there is law enforcement and then there is also rehabilitation for the prisoners.”
There was a heavy presence of Police Officers at the Tafa’igata Prison on Friday morning.
The Samoa Observer visited the jail and there were close to 10 officers at the gate.