NATION

Judge Dismisses Disqualification Application In Vilikesa Soko Case

The Lautoka High Court Judge Justice Aruna Aluthge yesterday dismissed the application of a judicial disqualification by defence lawyer Iqbal Khan. Mr Khan had made an application to disqualify Justice
03 Nov 2016 12:00
Judge Dismisses Disqualification Application In Vilikesa Soko Case

The Lautoka High Court Judge Justice Aruna Aluthge yesterday dismissed the application of a judicial disqualification by defence lawyer Iqbal Khan.

Mr Khan had made an application to disqualify Justice Aluthge’s ruling upon instructions of his clients.

They are former Police officers, Manasa Talala, Seruvi Caqusau, Kelevi Sewatu, Penaia Drauna, Filise Vere, Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu, Senitiki Natakasavu and military officer, Pita Matairavula.

Justice Aluthge had made the ruling against a no case to answer application by the defence on Tuesday.

The nine accused are jointly charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault of Vilikesa Soko, who was in their custody on August 15, 2014. The incident was linked to the death of Soko.

Talala and Vereivalu are also charged with defeating the course of justice.

In his affidavit, Mr Khan submitted that the application was on the basis of actual bias and perceptual bias.

He said Justice Aluthge failed to take into account the submission made by the defence.

He stated that Justice Aluthge did not consider Senijeili Boila’s evidence in court.

Mr Khan said that there was no mention in court about the buying of chillies and so asked why the Judge mentioned it in his ruling.

However, Justice Aluthge stated there was a mention by a state witness.

Mr Khan argued that the names of the accused were not mentioned.

State lawyer, Burney Lee, stated the defence lawyer was wasting the time of the court and that the trial must continue for should there be any matters arising from the ruling it could be taken up with an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

In the meantime, both lawyers for the state and defence filed their closing submissions before Jutice Aluthge and the four court assessors.

Mr Lee submitted both direct and circumstantial evidences.

He stated that there were evidence of also concerted efforts by the senior Police officers to cover up the crime by influencing the junior officers.

 

Circumstantial evidences  of the prosecution include:

 There is no doubt that Soko and Boila were sexually assaulted at Malevu

 The two suspects were arrested and taken to Malevu hillside for interrogation, which should not have happened.

 Nine accused were present at the scene and there was enough evidence to verify that

 There could not be any civilians but police and military officers at the scene as the idea was to go there so that there were no prying eyes.

 There were five vehicles at the hillside and 21 police officers of whom nine were charged, other 11 gave evidence in court and one could not because he was on sick leave.

 

The direct evidence

include:

 Mr Lee stated that five accused themselves in their record of interview stated they were there, some even said they witnessed some do the act of brutality.

 But he said what was not there was what each did about it, if they saw it happen.

 He said none did anything therefore all or some of them were responsible for the crime.

 He even mentioned the statement of Boila stating he had seen the eight accused using the stick into Soko’s private part.

Boila had agreed and identified the accused in court.

In his submission Mr Khan maintained that no investigating officers put to the accused the allegations against them while conducting the interview.

He said that he would continue to maintain that there were 25-30 police and military officers present at the scene.

He asked why not the others were charged if it was a case of joint enterprise.

Mr Khan also questioned the false, more than once written statements and contradictory statements presented by the state witnesses.

Finally he stated that the prosecution had brought to court a case of suspicion and there was a doubt in the way the investigation was conducted and the evidence of the state witness.

The final summing up by the four court assessors will be made tomorrow.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  arishma.narayan@fijisun.com.fj

 



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