Feature

Murder At ‘Kings’: The Plans To Kill Bob Amos

While Mrs Amos is said to be maintaining her innocence out of prison now, the couple’s son Vernon has been fighting for his father’s property for several years. As Part 2 of the Kings Hotel murder series, today we take a look through court documents on the various plans that were made to kill Mr Amos and other details of the case.
12 Jul 2019 11:50
Murder At ‘Kings’: The Plans To Kill Bob Amos
Photographs from Bob Amos’ early years and himself at adulthood (bottom right photo).

There were three attempts or purported attempts to kill Bob Amos involving visits by Jagdish and his people to Suva.

First, there was to be a killing of Mr Amos by clubbing him at his home when he was visiting his separated wife.

According to a Fiji Court of Appeal judgment on November 13, 1986, this was the event the Kumar brothers had spoken of.

They had told police that having accepted payment, they only put on a sham attendance at the house and then made off with the money to the indignation of Jagdish and Rao.

Then there was talk of killing Mr Amos by placing his body in his van and rolling it over a cliff as a feigned accident, which did not eventuate. But money had changed hands to that end.

  • The murder of American businessman, Robert Emerson Amos in June 1985 in Suva sent shock waves throughout the country.
  •  Commonly known as Bob Amos, he was a former US military officer and the owner of Kings Hotel in Nabua, Suva.
  •  As part of a flashback, the Fiji Sun last week gave a background of the case and the six people who were convicted and jailed for life for his murder.
  • They were his wife Prakash Wati Amos; Bijendra Rao (hotel manager), Jagdish Prasad, Janendra Prasad, Jitendra Kumar and Josua Ralulu.
  • Manohar Prasad, an employee of the hotel, was also charged by Police, but he was granted immunity by the State and he became a witness.
  • Two Kumar brothers, who had received money for a supposed attempt on Mr Amos’ life, became witnesses in the trial.
  • While Mrs Amos is said to be maintaining her innocence out of prison now, the couple’s son Vernon has been fighting for his father’s property for several years.
  • As Part 2 of the Kings Hotel murder series, today we take a look through court documents on the various plans that were made to kill Mr Amos and other details of the case.

“Finally, Jagdish and his men did come to Suva once more, so Manohar said, and the deed was done in accordance with plan no.3 – a killing of Amos in his hotel room and removal of the body to the Yacht Club,” the judgment said.

“Manohar said that his active participation in the final event was limited to the morning of June 3 (1985) when he had assisted Rao to loosen the locks on Amos’s door – so it could be opened easily.

“He also said that Rao went into Amos’s room and looked at some papers, including Amos’s diary which recorded that he suspected that Rao and Mrs Amos were ‘playing dirty game’.

“As at June, when the statements were taken, this was the only mention of Mrs Amos’s possible involvement apart from the introductory portion of Jagdish’s statement in which he said that Mrs Amos had been with Rao when the killing was first canvassed.”

The court document states that based on these statements, Rao, Mrs Amos, Jagdish, Janendra, Jitendra and Ralulu were arrested and charged with the murder of Mr Amos.

Jagdish, Janendra, Jitendra and Ralulu had each made what purported to be confessional statements.

Manohar had also implicated himself as being involved in the plan as a messenger, as a carrier of money and as present at some of the meetings when the various schemes were discussed.

He was also arrested and charged by Police.

“However, as far as we can see there was at this stage very little against Rao, and no admissible evidence against Mrs Amos – given that Jagdish and Manohar were charged and their statements thereby not admissible against these two,” according to the court judgment.

“Certain supporting evidence began to collect against Rao – mostly from fellow employees indicating suspicious movements by him in and about the hotel at the assumed time of the killing and shortly thereafter.”

A shopping area in Nabua, Suva where the Kings Hotel was previously located. Photo: Ronald Kumar

A shopping area in Nabua, Suva where the Kings Hotel was previously located. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The immunity

A most important development in the case occurred in early September 1985.

“By some means, and it seems to us irrelevant just where the initiative came from, whether from the police or from Manohar, or from his counsel or from the DPP, it became known that an immunity could be available if Manohar agreed to turn Queen’s evidence,” the court judgment stated.

“As far as the record goes, the earliest mention was by a police officer in court at the beginning of September – but its origin may have been elsewhere and earlier.

“However, that may be on 5th September, Manohar was re-interviewed and made a lengthy statement – there seems to be no doubt that by now some promise of immunity had been given.”

In the statement, Manohar revealed a story which he repeated in court and which comprised the entire case against Mrs Amos.

Manohar said that Rao went to Jagdish in Tavua and asked for Mr Amos to be killed and that in his presence Rao told Jagdish that Mrs Amos was a party to the visit and request.

Manohar then went on to implicate Mrs Amos as several times supplying the money and urging Rao to have the matter completed.

“He spoke of a number of occasions when he claimed to be present when Rao and Mrs Amos discussed the progress of the plan and she complained of lack of finality,” the court judgment states.

“As has been said, it is clear that this statement, which alone implicated Mrs Amos, followed negotiations however initiated, that Manohar would be granted immunity.

“Manohar was in fact released from custody on 12th September. Whether a stay of proceedings was ever entered we have not been told, but a formal letter of immunity was given to him dated 19th September.

“Manohar’s statement of 5/6 September is very long and differs in a number of respects from earlier accounts.  In particular he now said that Mrs Amos was involved.”

The Trial.

At trial the cases against the various defendants differed greatly in strength.

Manohar’s evidence implicated all six as participating in various ways and apart from his evidence, there was no other proof of involvement by Mrs Amos.

Similarly, although Rao had been named by Manohar in his early statements, and the change of story criticism did not apply, the case against him was largely Manohar’s evidence as an accomplice but with some corroboration.

“It is true to say that without Manohar’s evidence there could have been no case at all against Mrs Amos, and very little evidence against Rao,” said the court judgment.

“Manohar’s evidence also implicated Jagdish but in his case the alleged confession by him, if accepted, provided total corroboration, indeed could have sufficed on its own.”

Manohar also implicated Janendra, Jitendra and Ralulu and as with Jagdish, their confessional statements confirmed his evidence.

Apart from his confessional statement, Ralulu gave evidence at the trial whereas the others made unsworn statements.

Ralulu said that he and Jagdish, Janendra and Jitendra were all active in the killing but claimed that he had been subject to compulsion.

The court judgment said that evidence was relevant and admissible against the others.

Rao, Mrs Amos, Jagdish, Janendra, Jitendra and Ralulu were convicted by the Supreme Court in Suva after a trial between March 3 and June 4, 1986.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment for Mr Amos’ murder between June 3 and 5, 1985 at Kings Hotel in Suva and dumping his body at the Royal Suva Yacht Club.

Feedback: avinesh.gopal@fijisun.com.fj

Next week: Mrs Amos’ grounds of appeal.

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