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M.P silent on jail for manslaughter

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Lafaitele Patrick Lei'ataualesa.

The Associate Minister for the Ministry of Police and Prisons, Lafaitele Patrick Lei’ataualesa, took a swipe at the media in Parliament on Thursday accusing reporters of being unfair, saying they “need to be factual and balanced.”

He also said: “Journalists should have standards in place to avoid people who wander off the streets and end up becoming journalists.”

Referring to a recent trip to Queensland Australia where he came across a newspaper with his photo on the front page, he said the writer was “an old journalist.”

He said he wrote that he was suspended from the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) for a “inuga'ava.”

“This might have been interpreted in many ways and many people took it as if we were drinking beer, but we we’re not,” he said.

“Let’s remember that rocks will rot but, words do not,” he warned.

He’s got a point there.

The “word” is that “Lafaitele Patrick Lei’ataualesa was jailed in New Zealand in 1988 for manslaughter and wounding.”

Known as Pat Letoa at the time, he was deported to Samoa in 1992 after serving four years of a six year sentence in a New Zealand jail for manslaughter in relation to a death by a machete.

Three men were convicted of murder of the Tongan, David Fuko, and Lafaitele was among the four convicted of manslaughter and wounding.

In sentencing those convicted of manslaughter, Justice Henry said although they did not physically inflict injury, they had "swelled the numbers to make the plan a practical reality" and had gone there "knowing that death was a likely consequence of the attack.”

Asked for a comment outside Parliament yesterday, LafaitelePatrick Lei’ataualesa declined, saying: “I can’t comment on something that had not been raised in Parliament.”

Asked about his alleged conviction in view of his insistence on the need for reporters to always tell the truth, Lafaitele was defensive.

He said: “I did not talk about that in Parliament.

I was talking about an article that mentioned inuga’ava whereas it should’ve been alofi.”

“But is it true?” he was asked.

He said: “I have no comment on that.”

Here is a copy of a story from New Zealand Herald, reprinted here:

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Deported MP came back illegally

By Phil Taylor New Zealand Herald Monday Aug 14, 2006 A Samoan Cabinet minister deported from New Zealand after serving a jail sentence for his involvement in a machete killing has repeatedly returned to the country illegally.

Samoa's Associate Revenue Minister Lafaitele Patrick was in New Zealand last month.

Mr Patrick, who was known as Pat Leota before inheriting Samoan chiefly titles, was deported in 1992 after serving four years of a six-year sentence in a New Zealand jail for manslaughter after the machete killing of David Fuko in a brawl between Tongans and Samoans.

Mr Fuko, an uncle of former All Black Jonah Lomu, was chased through the Otara shopping centre and nearly beheaded.

Under the Immigration Act it is illegal for anyone sentenced to a prison term of five years or more to enter New Zealand.

The Department of Labour confirmed that a "Samoan individual" deported after serving four years of a six-year prison sentence had slipped into New Zealand "a number of times".

At the time of his deportation a border alert was posted under names he was known by but he had avoided detection because he used a new passport obtained using a new name.

"He used this passport and new name when applying for a visa to visit New Zealand," said Deputy Secretary Workforce Mary Anne Thompson.

"He failed to declare his new identity or his previous conviction when submitting this application. Under immigration and criminal law this is considered an offence."

"The department and the database alert system were unable to make the connection between the old and new passports."

Ms Thompson said the department had placed an alert on the name and passport he was presently using and he would not be allowed back into New Zealand. She said planned improvements - which she did not specify - to the department's systems would help reduce the use of dual identities to obtain visas, as would the possible future use of biometrics (technology for scanning physical characteristics).

Samoa's Deputy High Commissioner to New Zealand, Ono Fuatai, said Mr Patrick had not visited New Zealand on official business.

Mr Patrick was a 20-year-old apple picker when the incident occurred, in which another Tongan, Amoni Matu, was wounded. Three men were convicted of murder and Mr Patrick was among four convicted of manslaughter and wounding.

In sentencing those convicted of manslaughter, Justice Henry said although they did not physically inflict injury, they had "swelled the numbers to make the plan a practical reality" and had gone there "knowing that death was a likely consequence of the attack".

"What each of you foresaw as a possible result of your actions eventuated and a man did die ... your actions horrified society."

Mr Patrick could not be contacted but he has reportedly suggested he was wrongly convicted.

He had been a bystander when approached by a Tongan he believed intended to harm him and had hit the man with a metal object.

"I don't think justice was served. It was an act of self-defence. If we had enough money at the time, we would have appealed against the decision."

Mr Patrick changed his name by acquiring chiefly titles from his village and is now known as Lafaitele Patrick Leiataualesa.

He was elected to the Samoan Parliament this year as an independent and joined the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, which named him as a Cabinet minister.

It has been reported that the party had not checked his background but Samoan political leaders supported him after his background was revealed last month.

Mr Patrick identified himself and confirmed details of his conviction after a letter-writer told the Samoan Observer he was shocked to find that a convicted criminal, deported from New Zealand, was an MP.

"He owned up. That's a sign of a person with integrity," Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao said at the time.

Opposition Leader Le Mamea Ropati quoted the Bible, saying let those without sin cast the first stone.

But some local people have questioned Mr Patrick's suitability to be a lawmaker and how he was able to stand for Parliament when another man was ruled to be ineligible because of a murder conviction.

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