Punishment for ridicule of Samoan PM

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 10:47 09/01/2014

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The family of a boy who made a video ridiculing Samoa's prime minister has been ordered to pay a fine of WST$10,000 (NZ$5200), 30 cartons of tinned fish and two cows.

The video, which was widely circulated by phone in Samoa and posted on Facebook, mocked Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele.

The chiefs of the village of Sili in Savai'i have made a traditional apology to the prime minister which included abasing themselves under mats before him.

The Ali'i ma Faipule - the high chiefs and orators of the village - brought the boy's family before their council this week and fined them, the Samoa Observer reported.

Anyone who spoke to the media would face an identical fine and if another video was made the family would be banished from the village, it said.

A village chief told the Observer the leaders were disgusted at what happened and did not want to discus it.

"We don't want people to know because it's shameful," he said.

"It hurts the feelings of the village and the country."

The chief said the boy showed the video to a friend who took it to school and showed it to a teacher.

"The teacher then circulated the video clip," he said.

The Observer quoted police saying the video, filmed with a phone on a plantation, was "emotionally distressful" and included "verbal harassment" of the prime minister.

The prime minister told the Observer that he had received the apology from Sili.

He did not seek the apology but the fact the village came to his home indicated that cultural respect was alive and well.

"If this happened and they did not consider it - a person has many roots, especially when what was done was directed at the leader of the country," the prime minister said.

"So it involves the whole country."

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