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Court To Make Ruling On $15m Drugs Pair Today

Court To Make Ruling On $15m Drugs Pair Today
Joseph Abourizk and Josese Muriwaqa outside Lautoka High Court yesterday.Photo: Kathrin Krishna
April 29
10:58 2016

An Australian national and a Fijian man will face sentencing today after they were convicted for the discovery of $15 million worth of cocaine in their possession last year.

Joseph Nayef Abourizk, of Sydney, Australia and Josese Muriwaqa of Nadi will know their fate this morning from the Lautoka High Court Judge, Justice Thushara Rajasinghe.

Last week the five assessors returned a not guilty verdict for the pair but this was overruled by Justice Rajasinghe who found the pair guilty of the charges of unlawful possession of illicit drugs.

Mr Abourizk and Mr Muriwaqa denied the charges.

Yesterday Mr Abourizk’s lawyer Warick Korn, in mitigation said the accused had no previous conviction.

He said Mr Abourizk had a daughter and wife in Sydney and he was the sole bread winner in the family.

Mr Korn asked the court to consider imposing a non-custodial sentence and his client would pay whatever fine imposed by the court.

He said Mr Abourizk was willing to sell his property in Australia to pay the fine and that the accused could be held in remand until that fine was paid.

He also asked the court to also put a ban on the accused returning to Fiji if the fine was imposed.

Mr Muriwaqa’s lawyer Mark Anthony submitted written mitigation and endorsed Mr Korn’s remarks except for the mention of the issue of fine.

The maximum sentence for this crime is life imprisonment or $1 million fine or both.

State counsel Semi Babitu called for a custodial sentence to be imposed.

He told the court that imposing a non custodial sentence and fining the accused persons would set a precedent.

Mr Babitu said this would make Fiji an easy place to deal drugs as people would come to know that they could come and carry out illegal drug trades here and escape with only a fine.

The Fiji Police Force Crime Unit apprehended the men on July 13 last year at Vuda Point and found  20 parcels wrapped in plastic and masking tape in the travelling bag and 14 more such parcels inside one of the suitcases inside the vehicle they were using.

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