Witness IDs Risto in court

By FONUA TALEI The Suva Magistrates court yesterday heard that a former boat operator who transported staff and guests of Nagigia Island resort in Kadavu also transported Risto Harmat and
04 Sep 2012 12:29


The Suva Magistrates court yesterday heard that a former boat operator who transported staff and guests of Nagigia Island resort in Kadavu also transported Risto Harmat and Roko Ului to Risto’s boat on May 9, 2011.
In continuation of Estonian national Risto Harmat’s trial, State witness Apisai Bolatuku pointed Harmat out in court saying he was the man he transported to another boat before they set out fishing.
The 38-year old said he began work at 6am on May 9 and received a call from the hotel to pick up two guests from the hotel who had wanted to go fishing.
He said he immediately proceeded to the hotel, picked up the Harmat and Roko Ului from the hotel and took them to Harmat’s boat which was out at sea.
He added that the duo went to Muaitavaya fishing point thereafter at about 6am to 7am.
Mr Bolatuku however said that he could not recall seeing Harmat’s boat at Muaitavaya whilst he was going from the hotel to Nasoso beach on his way home to lunch between 12pm-1pm.
State prosecutor Mosese Korovou questioned Mr Bolatuku if he at any time during that day see Roko Ului again to which he answered no.
He added that he did not see either of the two at Nasoso beach that day.
Defence lawyer, in questioning Mr Bolatuku asked if he was watching Nasoso beach the whole day to which he said no.
The court then heard that it took about 10 minutes to travel from the hotel to Nasoso beach and back.
Another state witness who captained the fishing boat; Rabi One said he was out fishing close to Nabukelevu-i-ra on May 9, 2011 when he saw a white fibre glass boat drifting around Nagigia Island Resort towards Cape Washington lighthouse.
State witness Sailasa Kaitani informed the court that he met villagers of Nabukelevu-i-ra who came to the Rabi One on that day.
The court heard that Mr Kaitani and his crew also came into contact with a naval vessel which bore the name Savea on the side at around 4pm.
He said he communicated with the naval vessel via VHF Channel 16 and was informed that the vessel was responding to a distress call made from the area.
After Mr Kaitani informed the naval ship that the Rabi One had not made any distress calls the naval vessel then said they were leaving for Vanuatu before it headed off in the North North West direction.
Mr Kaitani said he did not see any boat at Muaitavaya while he was communicating with the naval vessel.
He said the fibre glass boat had gone in the North direction.
A log book was then produced in court which had entry by Mr Kaitani of what transpired at sea on that day.
Defence counsel asked Mr Kaitani why the log book dated May 9, 2011 was signed off on February this year, to which he answered he was asked by Criminal Investigations Department to sign it.
Defence lawyer then asked Mr Kaitani why there were no entries made on May 10 questioning if the contact with the naval vessel on May 9 was the only interesting thing that happened while on their three week fishing trip.
Mr Kaitani told the court that they had a separate fishing log book which they also filled in while they were out fishing.
He also told the court that he did not at any time see the naval vessel with a small fibreglass boat while at sea, adding that the navy boat appeared an hour after he spotted the fibre boat.
He also said he did not see who was in the fibre-glass boat.
The trial continues today.
Harmat is charged with one count of obstructing the course of justice.
Harmat is alleged to have assisted Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, commonly known as Roko Ului, reach a Tongan naval vessel in his escape from Fiji in 2011.

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