NEWS

Nine Guilty Of Rape, Assault

A judge yesterday found eight ex-Police officers and one former soldier guilty of rape and sexual assault. Justice Aruna Aluthge convicted the nine for the rape and sexual assault of
12 Nov 2016 12:57
Nine Guilty Of Rape, Assault
Left: GUILTY... Seruvi Caqusau. , GUILTY... Viliame Vereivalu. , GUILTY... Manasa Talala. Photo: Arishma Devi-Narayan

A judge yesterday found eight ex-Police officers and one former soldier guilty of rape and sexual assault.

Justice Aruna Aluthge convicted the nine for the rape and sexual assault of Vilikesa Soko and Senijieli Boila.

Soko and Boila were arrested in 2014 as suspects in an alleged robbery. Soko later died while in Police custody.

Former Divisional Crime Officer, Manasa Talala, and seven other former Police officers – Seruvi Caqusau, Kelevi Sewatu, Penaia Drauna, Filise Vere, Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu, Senitiki Natakasavu, and former soldier Pita Matairavula, have been found guilty of two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault of robbery suspects on August 15, 2014.

Talala and Vereivalu have also been found guilty of two counts of defeating the course of justice.

Justice Aluthge told a packed courtroom that he disagreed with the assessors’ opinions. The assessors said six were guilty and three were not guilty.

Justice Aluthge said after analysing the evidence from the Prosecution and the Defence, he accepted the Prosecution’s version without a shred of doubt.

Justice Aluthge said the evidence of the defence was highly unreliable and was not proved in any way.

He said there was evidence without a doubt that Soko and Boila were taken to the hillside and subjected to torture for the purpose of interrogation.

Justice Aluthge said Soko had told one of the doctors that chillies were rubbed in his private parts and noted that both Soko and Boila were anally penetrated.

Boila in his evidence also said that chillies were rubbed on his entire body and private part. The same thing was done to Soko.

Justice Aluthge highlighted a term ‘sili boro’, which an accused had used to define the act of rubbing chillies. He said this was a “common practice used by the Police in Fiji” for interrogation purposes.

Moreover, he said Boila gave evidence that a stick was put inside his private parts and also in Soko’s from which they suffered injuries.

“From what some of the eye witnesses and accused had told in the evidence, I am sure Boila told the truth although he turned a hostile witness,” Judge Aluthge said.

“Therefore I accept that part of Boila’s evidence and conclude that both the victims, Boila and Soko, were raped and sexually assaulted at Malevu Hillside.”

Justice Aluthge said the Prosecution relied on two principles to activate criminal liability, complexity and common purposes.

He said furthermore, the Prosecution said that all accused persons were part of joint enterprise with common desire to take Boila and Soko to Malevu hillside to subject them to torture for the purpose of interrogation.

He said they either agreed on the sexual assault of the victim or knew so that rape and sexual assault were the probable consequences of their joint enterprise. He said each accused must be responsible.

Justice Aluthge analysed evidence against each accused person.

He said the officers aided and abetted the crime. He said they did not stop the crime from happening being lawmen and senior officers but encouraged its commission.

Justice Aluthge stated the Prosecution also said all the accused had actually assisted in this plan or did nothing to do to stop the crime. As Police officers they had a duty to maintain the law, he said.

He stated the Defence filed that the evidence filed by the Prosecution was highly unreliable and there was no evidence that the accused persons were at the scene at the time of the incident.

But Justice Aluthge said the evidence of the Prosecution was highly reliable. He also anaylsed the evidences against Talala and Vereivalu for defeating the course of justice.

Justice Aluthge also stated that some of them gave evidence in fear of their senior officers or loyalty to them while some witnesses had the courage to tell the truth.

The mitigation and submission for sentencing will be filed on November 16 and the sentencing will be on November 18.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: arishma.narayan@fijisun.com.fj



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