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Prosecution, Defence Lawyers Make Closing Submissions

Prosecution, Defence Lawyers  Make Closing Submissions
Loata Vitalina on July 4, 2017 outside court in Suva. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau
July 07
10:29 2017

A woman jointly charged with her partner for manslaughter admitted under cross-examination that she had sought traditional forgiveness from her village over her sickly child.

Loata Vitalina, 32, continued giving evidence before judge Justice Vincent Perera at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

 

Allegation

It is alleged that on February 28, 2013, at Sawanikula Village in Vunidawa, Petero Taitusi, 34 and Vitalina failed to ensure the safety of their one-year-10-month-old child who was under their charge and such failure caused his death.

 

Cross-examination

During cross-examination, state prosecutor Susan Serukai, suggested to Vitalina that she had gone to seek traditional forgiveness because her child was sickly – to which she replied saying ‘yes’.

Ms Serukai put it to her that if she had really cared about her son, then she would have taken food with her to the health centre.

In reply, Vitalina said that she did not take take any food with her because she thought that she would just ask for hookworm tablets and return home.

Vitalina told the court that none of the nurses at the health centre explained about her child’s condition.

“There was no medical staff there so we could inform them that we are going home.

“None of the nurses told me about my son’s illness, but only told me to wait for the ambulance,” she told the court. It was further stated by Ms Serukai that at no time did Vitalina ask any medical officer about the arrangements for an ambulance, to which she said ‘yes’.

Ms Serukai further asked her if  Vunidawa Hospital was the only hospital in the Naitasiri area, to which she said ‘yes’.

Vitalina was asked why she did not take her son to Vunidawa Hospital during their stay at Sawanikula Village.

She said: “I could have taken him, but there was no source of income with me to take him.

Under re-examination, defence lawyer Thomson Lee asked Vitalina why she did not take her son to Vunidawa Hospital.

She said: “Because he was eating very well, the swelling in his body was no longer there and he was walking around.”

Her partner Taitusi wished to exercise his rights to remain silent.

 

State prosecution’s closing submission

Ms Serukai while delivering her closing submissions said that the baby would have been alive today if proper care was taken.

She said: “Taitusi had a responsibility and a duty towards the child.

“They didn’t ask for help, but were more worried about asking for forgiveness and Vitalina did not ask why the child was being referred to CWM Hospital.

“Hookworms did not kill the child, it was the lung infection that did.

“Not every sickness can be cured, but it can be treated and a lesson must be learnt. The public must know that their children must be a priority.”

 

 Defence closing submissions

Taitusi’s defence lawyer Lisiate Qetaki said that even with proper care death was still inevitable.

Mr Qetaki said: “If you have an itaukei man that is not so educated trying to look after his child, you will understand the steps that he would have taken.

“The nurse kept saying that they saw signs, but that’s all they did and they never acted on the signs.”

He further highlighted that considering the evidence stated in court, the child was better after taking the hookworm tablets.

“Of course for a person who is not well educated they will think the child is better and the child was never sick when he had gone up to Sawanikula Village,” said Mr Qetaki.

It was also stated by Mr Qetaki that according to the pathologist Dr James Kalougivaki, the child was in a critical condition and he would not have made it anyway.

“You cannot hold a parent criminally liable for thinking that what they were doing was in the best interest of the child,” said Mr Qetaki.

Mr Lee who is representing Vitalina said that the staff nurse knew the child had pneumonia since July 2012, but didn’t do anything about it.

“The nurse had the duty and the details of the child and they had months of time to save the child’s life,” said Mr Lee.

He further stated that if Vitalina was explained thoroughly that her child had pneumonia then she would not have gone to Sawanikula.

The case will continue today and Justice Perera will deliver his summing up.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  jessica.gounder@fijisun.com.fj

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