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Former American Samoan Prison Warden and Corrections Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON— The Justice Department today announced Mika Kelemete, the former warden at the Tafuna Correctional Facility in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and Siaumau Mapu, a former corrections officer at the same prison, were sentenced today in federal court in Honolulu for their roles in separate incidents involving the physical assaults of inmates in 2003. Kelemete was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment. Mapu received a sentence of 39 months. After their release from prison, both will be on federal supervised release for three years.

During his guilty plea on Aug. 15, 2007, Kelemete admitted that in August 2003, he ordered two corrections officers to remove an inmate from his cell and bring the inmate to the center of the facility where he was handcuffed to a pole. At that point, Kelemete picked up a board and struck the inmate on his head and his back until the board broke.

When Mapu pleaded guilty on June 26, 2007, he admitted that he abused his authority as a corrections officer when, in January 2003, he unnecessarily and repeatedly struck an inmate on the head. The inmate suffered significant ear drum damage as a result of the beating. Mapu also pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents who were investigating another alleged assault at the Tafuna facility.

“Most prison wardens and correctional officers perform their difficult duties with honor and professionalism. As this prosecution shows, however, the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who cross the line and engage in criminal acts,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In fiscal year 2007, nearly half of the cases brought by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division involved such prosecutions. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has convicted 53 percent more defendants (391 vs. 256) for excessive force and official misconduct than in the preceding seven years.

Today’s plea resulted from the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Civil Rights Division attorneys Susan French and Jared Fishman handled the cases for the Justice Department.