NEWS

Court Orders Medical Check For Drug Suspects

Sigatoka Magistrate Tomasi Bainivalu has ordered a medical check-up for three Navosa farmers charged with the unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs. Their lawyer, Litia Vateitei of Asta’s Lawyers, claimed in
26 Jun 2016 11:31
Court Orders Medical Check For Drug Suspects
Police escort drug-accused from left: Semi Naicula, Sakiusa Balenavatu and Maciu Libu to a special court sitting at the Sigatoka Magistrates Court yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Sigatoka Magistrate Tomasi Bainivalu has ordered a medical check-up for three Navosa farmers charged with the unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs.

Their lawyer, Litia Vateitei of Asta’s Lawyers, claimed in court that her clients were beaten during their Police interview.

Semi Naicula, 38, and Maciu Libu, 25, were charged with one count of unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs while Sakiusa Balenavatu, 19, was charged with two counts of unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs.

Ms Vateitei told the court that at one time there were nine Police officers interrogating her clients which resulted in them being beaten  up in parts of the body well known to Police.

She told the court that her clients were in fear or being attacked as Police stepped on their thighs and held the neck of Balenavatu.

Naicula was also punched in the ribs while Libu was punched in the ribs, waist, mouth and left knee, Ms Vateitei told the court.

She made these comments negating claims by the prosecution that they were just mere allegations made by her clients as they confessed during interview since RFMF officers had guns and about four Police officers were present during the interrogation. Police prosecutor Sergeant Mohammed Shamim told the court that the use of guns was simply to protect the officers.

Sergeant Shamim strongly objected to bail because there was a rise in drug-related cases and it was of national interest because the drugs had affected communities.

He said Police had difficulty locating the suspected farmers and their farms and if the accused were released on bail they would likely interfere with the ongoing operation.

He said granting bail would hinder the investigation.

It is alleged that Naicula and Libu from February 1 to June 12 harvested 2897 plants alleged to be marijuana with a total weight of 15.1 kilogrammes.

The third-accused Balenavatu from February 1 to June 20 harvested 198 plants weighing 4kg and on June 20 he harvested 1357 seedlings weighing 1.7kg.

Ms Vateitei applied for bail saying that she managed to inform her clients to surrender themselves to Police in Keiyasi.

She said Naicula was a first offender who had a clean record; Libu had an assault case pending before the same court.

The three are among the 11-accused who were arrested and charged during a joint Police-military operation called Operation Cavuraka in the Navosa Highlands.

Magistrate Bainivalu told the court for prosecution to file disclosures in the next 14 days and ordered that the three accused be taken to the Sigatoka Hospital for a medical check-up.

The three remain on remand at the Natabua Corrections facility. They will re-appear in court on July 8.

 

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  waisean@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper