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Court orders fresh trial for former cop

Court orders fresh trial for former cop
September 01
10:00 2018

 

A former Police constable will undergo a fresh trial in the Suva Magistrates Court after the High Court set aside his acquittal and ordered a retrial.

Sanita Laqenisici was charged with two counts of bribery where he was alleged to have accepted an advantage of $100 from Avinesh Kumar on account of abstaining from performing an act in his capacity as public servant for not interfering with Mr Kumar’s affairs.

He was acquitted in the Magistrates Court on October 31, 2017, after he was found not guilty.

In his judgment Justice Thushara Rajasin­ghe found that the Fiji Independent Commis­sion Against Corruption had a strong case against Laqenisici and that a retrial would serve the interest of justice.

He said he did not find that the evidence of the complainant, which is directly relevant to the main dispute, was contradictory.

In his evidence the complainant specifically stated that it was Laqenisici who called him on February 15, 2014, asking for $100 in order to stop all the harassment that he had been through.

Justice Rajasinghe said the court was al­lowed to take into consideration the demean­our and deportment of the witness when it considered their credibility and reliability, however their demeanour only assisted to form an assumption.

He said the conclusion of the learned Magistrate about the witness’s demeanour was based upon a misguided assessment or evaluation of the evidence presented during hearing.

Laqenisici claimed that he obtained the $100 merely as a loan and it was not an in­ducement for or a reward.

“The test adopted by the learned Magis­trate is the very wrongful act the legislation intends to prevent in Section 4 (2) (a) of the Prevention of Bribery Act,” Justice Rajasin­ghe said.

“If the respondent took an advantage of the fact that the complainant was a potential suspect or witness in an ongoing investiga­tion to ask for a loan thinking that the com­plainant would not refuse his request for a loan due to the said circumstances that con­stitute the offence of bribery as stipulated under Section 4 (2) (a) of the Prevention of Bribery Act.”

Instead of finding Laqenisici guilty the learned Magistrate took into consideration a reason not to find him guilty.

The learned Magistrate also stated that if Laqenisici was demanding a bribe he would have demanded a substantial amount of money instead of $100.

“There is no evidence adduced before the learned Magistrate to suggest that if a per­son is demanding a bribe he must demand an amount that is above a certain level,” he said.

“It appears that the conclusion of the learned Magistrate is founded on some fic­tional speculations.”

The case will be called before Chief Magis­trate Usaia Ratuvili on September 4, 2018, for mention.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

 

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