Murdered child found hanging in guava tree

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A girl aged five was raped and murdered and found hanging from a guava tree in the South Pacific nation of Samoa.

A girl aged five was raped and murdered and found hanging from a guava tree in the South Pacific nation of Samoa.

The child, Toesulu Matalaga, went outside to play after returning from her first day at school. She was found dangling from the tree near her home in Ulutogia, an idyllic place of white sand beaches in eastern Samoa. She was naked.

The murder has horrified Samoans, whose island nation of 170,000 people has been hailed as a Polynesian paradise by generations of European visitors, including the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent his last four years there. The last child to die in violent circumstances was a 10-year-old girl killed by an escaped prisoner.

An investigation by a homicide squad that included the Police Commissioner, Asi Blakelock, led to a 19-year-old man being arrested on Friday, five days after Toesulu was found. He has not been named and remains in custody, with a court date yet to be set.

Toesulu had gone out into jungle behind her home, telling her aunt that she wanted to eat guava.

Her father said he told her to stop climbing the trees in case she fell. She is believed to have tried to escape up a tree when she was attacked. The rope lashed around her body was made from the bark of a guava tree.

The murder prompted calls for the return of Samoa's death penalty. Its last execution was in 1951, when it was still ruled by New Zealand.

Comments