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Lawyers Clash In Court Over Witness In Ra Sedition Trial

Lawyers Clash In Court Over Witness In Ra Sedition Trial
September 07
11:01 2017

Lawyers engaged in a tense exchange over a defence wit­ness in the Ra sedition trial yesterday.

State counsel, Lee Burney had filed an application before the Lau­toka High Court to strike out a de­fence witness, who the defence said was an expert in international and constitutional law from overseas.

Mr Burney said that the defence witness failed to meet the highest threshold of an expert required to give evidence on the sedition case.

Mr Burney added the case was about domestic laws and that the expertise held by the witness was not needed.

However, defence counsel, Aman Ravindra Singh, told the court that the evidence was relevant to the case.

He added it was up to the court to decide and not the prosecution.

Mr Singh said the prosecution was misleading the court and that its reasons were shallow.

He said the defence witness’s cur­riculum vitae was enough to justify that she was fit enough to give evi­dence and if the prosecution had any issue then they could highlight it during cross examination.

“What do they expect me to do, to call a witness to talk about birds and trees, I seriously find this dis­turbing. The prosecution wants to run the defence and prosecution.

“Defence has every right to call evidence,” Mr Singh said.

Mr Burney said the curriculum vitae produced in court was one that was used to apply for a job.

“A job CV doesn’t necessarily make someone an expert; we shouldn’t al­low someone without expertise to waste time in court and to make her look foolish because she isn’t an ex­pert,” he said.

Mr Burney added the CV had no proof that the defence witness was an expert in court proceedings.

“There is no proper basis for her to give evidence in court, she is just a practitioner, a lawyer like me,” he said.

Mr Singh told the court he was shocked with the objections from the prosecution.

He said the four documents in the sedition trial had provisions involving the United Nations Dec­laration of Indigenous Rights and International Court of Justice.

Mr Singh said the prosecution had failed to call in witnesses to explain the four documents linked to the so-called planned Ra Sovereign Chris­tian State.

He said these were very impor­tant documents. Their thread ran through the entire case, he said. He added the prosecution was trying to suppress evidence.

Mr Singh refused to make a formal response to the application made by the prosecution. He said it was ir­relevant for him to respond.

Justice Aruna Aluthge will make his ruling tomorrow.

Mr Burney told the court that it was a defence decision whether they wanted to rise to the challenge or not.

The accused denying sedition charges are: Ratu Epeli Niudamu, Sailasa Malani, Sereima Rokodi, Nanise Kasami Nagusuca, Waisea Dualima, Isikeli Kabakoro, Laisia­sa Mocevakaca, Emosi Toga, Wai­sake Racaca, Samuela Ligabalavu, Mikaele Gonerara, Josefa Natau, Sulueti Waqalala, Ulaiyasi Tuivo­mo and Apolosi Qalilawa.

Ilisapeci Natau has been acquit­ted.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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