Feature

Murder At ‘Kings’: Robert Emerson Amos

It’s more than 30 years since Robert Emerson Amos, commonly known as Bob Amos, was murdered in Suva. Mr Amos was a former US military officer and owned the Kings Hotel in Nabua, Suva, when he was murdered. Seven people were charged with his murder, but one of them was later given immunity after he turned State witness. Among the six people who were handed life sentences was Mr Amos’ wife, Prakash Wati Amos, who still maintains her innocence today.
05 Jul 2019 14:50
Murder At ‘Kings’: Robert Emerson Amos
Robert Emerson Amos served in the US military before settling down in Fiji.

Robert Emerson Amos was 51 years old when he arrived in Fiji in 1971 from the United States of America.

He was born in Bremerton, Washington, on August 8, 1920, and he attended various institutions there before joining the US military on March 4, 1943.

When his service was terminated by Honourable Relief from Active Duty on March 27, 1946, Mr Amos held the rank of a Captain.

His Military Record and Report of Separation, Certificate of Service showed that he also played a role in some battles and campaigns.

Mr Amos received some decorations and citations for his role in the battles and campaigns. During his term with the US military, he also served in the South West Pacific area from January 30, 1944, to July 21, 1945. It is believed that his service in the region was during the final stages of World War II.

According to his son Vernon Amos, Mr Amos arrived in Fiji in 1971 and married his mother, Prakash Wati, a year later.

“He travelled between Fiji and the US during that time and he bought the Kings Hotel in Nabua sometime in May 1975,” he said.

It was June 6, 1985, when Police were told about the discovery of a man’s body in a van parked at the Royal Suva Yacht Club.

Police officers arrived at the scene and they soon found out that it was Mr Amos.

Arrests

Seven people, including Mrs Amos, were arrested and charged by the Police following an intensive investigation.

The others included Bijendra Rao, the hotel manager, Jagdish Prasad, Janendra Prasad, Jitendra Kumar, Josua Ralulu and Manohar Prasad, an employee of the hotel.

Rao and Mrs Wati were charged with conspiracy, that between November 1, 1984 and June 3, 1985, they conspired together to murder Mr Amos. They were jointly charged with the others with the murder of the hotelier.

Manohar was later granted immunity after he became the State witness in the case.

The six remaining accused were found guilty after a trial and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court in Suva in June 1986, in what was a high-profile case at the time.

They appealed against their conviction, but their appeal was dismissed by the Fiji Court of Appeal on November 13, 1986.

According to the Fiji Court of Appeal judgment, Mr Amos was found dead in the back of a van parked at the Royal Suva Yacht Club carpark on June 6, 1985.

It said that although the body was somewhat decomposed with an estimate from the pathologist of death two days earlier, the medical evidence was that the cause was strangulation from a singlet found wrapped tightly around the neck of the deceased.

The judgment said an intensive inquiry began and many persons were interviewed. It said suspicion fell on persons associated with the hotel, including Mrs Amos, Rao and Manohar.

The purchase of a motor vehicle and the hiring of another from Tavua apparently provided leads and these led to the other appellants in the case.

Jagdish was interviewed by the Police and he said it was in late 1984 when Rao and Mrs Amos approached him in Tavua and money was offered for the death of Mr Amos. He agreed to make such an arrangement and was paid money by Rao at a later occasion, but no mention was made by him of Mrs Amos’ participation for the initial meeting.

Court Judgement

According to the judgment, Jagdish said various schemes were hatched and various trips to Suva were made. Eventually Janendra, Jitendra and Josua were recruited and brought over to Suva.

It said Mr Amos was set upon and strangled in his own hotel room and his body was transported in a van and left at the Royal Suva Yacht Club for discovery.

Police Interviews

Manohar was interviewed by the Police and he made three statements, dated June 14, 15 and 18, 1986, and he named Rao as the sole originator of the scheme.

But he agreed that he had acted as a go-between – a messenger between Rao and Jagdish – and had transported money for various payments.

Rao was interviewed by the Police and he denied any implication in the affair, that he had not been acting with Mrs Amos or on his own to approach Jagdish to arrange a killing.

He also told Police that he did not have an improper relationship with Mrs Amos as suggested and had no knowledge of Janendra, Jitendra and Josua  – spoken of by Jagdish as the team of killers.

According to the judgment, Mrs Amos denied all knowledge of how or why her husband was killed.

Janendra, Jitendra and Josua were interviewed by the Police and they were recorded admitting going to Suva on several occasions with Jagdish and that they had participated in killing Mr Amos in his hotel bedroom and moving the body to the yacht club. None of the three mentioned Rao or Mrs Amos as participants.

The Fiji Court of Appeal judgment states that at a later date two brothers named Kumar were interviewed. They told Police that they had been on one of the early trips to Suva at Jagdish’s behest and received money for a supposed attempt on Mr Amos’ life, but they had not carried it through.

Manohar and the Kumars became witnesses at the trial.

NEXT WEEK –  Murder At ‘Kings’: The plans to kill

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  avinesh.gopal@fijisun.com.fj

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