NEWS

Prasad Claims Of Assault

One of the six-accused in the Bank South Pacific robbery case told the court that he was assaulted, told to walk like a cow and eat grass. Kunal Edwin Prasad
18 Feb 2015 08:16
Prasad Claims Of Assault

One of the six-accused in the Bank South Pacific robbery case told the court that he was assaulted, told to walk like a cow and eat grass.

Kunal Edwin Prasad took to witness stand yesterday to give evidence against the charge of aggravated robbery.

Despite the power outage at the Suva courthouse and only two assessors present, the trial continued at the High Court in Suva before judge Justice Salesi Temo.

Josaia Usumaki, Prasad, Solomoni Qurai, Tevita Sugu, Epeli Qaraniqio, Deshwar Kishore Dutt are charged in relation to the BSP Samabula branch robbery on September 19, 2012.

They are charged with aggravated robbery and receiving stolen property worth $70,000 that was alleged to have been stolen from the bank.

When Prasad’s lawyer, Emosi Koroi questioned him about his whereabouts on September 19, 2012 around 1-3pm, State lawyer Lisiate Fotofili objected saying Mr Koroi was relying on alibi evidence for which they did not make application to.

Mr Fotofili objected saying the Defence lawyer did not comply with Section 125 of Criminal Procedures Decree 2009 which states that in order to rely on alibi evidence; the Defence was to give 21 days’ notice before the commencement of the trial or should have informed the Police.

Mr Fotofili said in Prasad’s statement, there was no evidence of Prasad being elsewhere, in fact Prasad allegedly confessed that he transported the robbers from BSP Samabula and received about $3000 as his share.

Mr Koroi for Prasad admitted that they had not made any alibi application because there was no need, since his client was never present at the crime scene.

Justice Temo said in the interest of justice, he was granting leave for the Defence lawyer to proceed with the case.

Mr Koroi then again asked his client of his whereabouts on the alleged robbery day. Prasad said he was at Naduru Road, Nausori, at his boss’s house repairing his car.

On September 20, 2012, Prasad agreed he was arrested from Tropic Towers.

He was asked what he was doing there by Mr Koroi to which Prasad said he was there from the previous night after returning from a night club with Dutt.

He said he was arrested at 6am and they dropped him off opposite Raiwaqa Police Station and when asked why, Prasad said because he informed the officers that he had no knowledge of the alleged robbery.

Mr Koroi asked him what happened the next morning. Prasad said he was at his boss’s house and at 7am the Police officers came and started asking him about the robbery money. Prasad said he told the officers that he didn’t know and they assaulted him.

He said he was hit by the arresting officer on the ribs and his chest and then taken to the Queen Elizabeth Barracks. Prasad denied as written in his statement, that he was taken to Nabua Police Station.

Prasad said at the QEB, he was tortured and asked to remove his clothes and instructed to walk like a cow and eat grass.

Justice Temo then asked him to illustrate. Prasad then got on his hands and knees and crawled in the court room.

He was asked how long he did this and Prasad said for about 2-3 minutes, it stopped, questioned again about the alleged robbery money and when he informed them he didn’t know, he was again asked to continue walking like a cow.

He said he was at QEB for about 30 to 40 minutes after which the officers took him to Bilo Village, Lami where the officers searched for the escapees; and from there he was taken to CID headquarters for questioning at around 5pm.

He was asked whether any of his statement was taken down, Prasad said no and he was sure of it.

He denied the statement which was shown to him as being his and told the court he was forced to sign it.

Mr Fotofili in cross-examination asked Prasad whether he knew Dutt and was friends with him and why he was drinking with him. He said yes as they stayed in Nausori and they were drinking because Dutt’s vehicle was released from Police custody hence Dutt treated him.

Mr Fotofili put it to him that it was not the case but it was because he received his share from Dutt which was the proceeds of the BSP robbery.

This was denied by Prasad.

FACTS
Amended charges:
nJosaia Usumaki and Kunal Edwin Prasad charged with aggravated robbery
nSolomoni Qurai, Tevita Sugu, Epeli Qaraniqio and Deshwar Dutt charged with dishonestly receiving stolen property namely cash.

Accused/Lawyers:
– Josaia Usumaki/Kunal Singh
– Kunal Prasad/Emosi Koroi
– Solomoni Qurai/Rosemary Drau
– Tevita Sugu/Taina Leweni
– Epeli Qaraniqio/Representing himself
– Deshwar Dutt/Sunil Kumar

Judge:
Justice Salesi Temo

He denied receiving any stolen money or knowing the escapees until the beginning of this case.

Other accused, Qurai, Sugu and Qaraniqio who are charged with receiving stolen property also took to witness stand.

All of the accused denied the prosecution witnesses’ claim of them having any money on them during the search on September 21, 2012.

However they concurred that they were arrested from Cave Island and by military officers at gunpoint.

They also agreed and maintained that none of them left the island from the day they escaped from Naboro Prison on September 17 to the day of their arrest on September 21, 2012.

Qaraniqio, who was representing himself, told the court he was beaten up and as a result had an amputated right leg and was in hospital for a month.

One last accused (Dutt) would give evidence today and four more witness would also be called in his defence.

Feedback: farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 




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