25 Oct 2002

Samoan immigration official defends procedures despite killer fleeing

4:25 pm on 25 October 2002

The head of Samoa's Immigration Division, Va'asatia Poloma Komiti, has rejected claims that a breakdown in procedures allowed a convicted killer to flee to New Zealand.

Ropati Nauer, who was due in court for sentencing at the beginning of the week, failed to appear having obtained a passport in another person's name and fled to New Zealand.

Nauer apparently applied for a passport using another person's name and birth certificate and a signed form certifying his identity.

Va'asatia says the processing of passport applications relies on the integrity of the identifier, who in this case was a close relative of Nauer's.

He says the matter is still being investigated but both the identifier and Nauer face possible charges of having obtained a passport under false pretences.

New Zealand's under-secretary for Pacific Island affairs, Taito Philip Field, has called for more vigilance from immigration officials in Samoa and New Zealand.