NATION

Court Remands Two in Ammunition Case

A businessman and one of his employees, charged in connection with the discovery of 179 rounds of live M16 bullets, were refused bail yesterday by the Lautoka Magistrates Court. The refusal
10 Jan 2017 12:00
Court Remands Two in Ammunition Case
Aiyaz Mohammed Musa Umarji at Lautoka Magistrates Court yesterday.Photo:ARISHMA DEVI-NARAYAN

A businessman and one of his employees, charged in connection with the discovery of 179 rounds of live M16 bullets, were refused bail yesterday by the Lautoka Magistrates Court.

The refusal came despite a submission by the businessman’s lawyer who said they were willing to pay up to $20,000 cash for bail and a further $5000 cash for each of the three sureties who were in court.

Aiyaz Mohammed Musa Umarji, 40, of Simla Lautoka and Naushad Ali, butchery manager, 30, of Kashmir, Lautoka, were denied bail by Magistrate Rangajeeva Wimalasena. They will re-appear in court on January 23 for mention.

Umarji and Ali are charged with possession of arms and ammunition without a licence.

It is alleged that Umarji and Ali were associated with the discovery of the ammunition on January 1 this year.

Divisional Prosecuting Officer West ASP Anil Prasad, in objection to bail for the accused, said the case was of national interest and investigations were nearing completion.

ASP Prasad also said Police have two more people being questioned who were likely to appear in court today.

He said the case had created fear among the public because of the involvement of ammunitions. He told the court that if Umarji and Ali were bailed, they could jeopardise Police investigations.

ASP Prasad told the court that Umarji and Ali did not co-operate with Police after their arrest, and no person in the country had a licence to hold live ammunitions apart from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

He described the bullets as high powered and said Umarji and Ali should be kept in a confined space away from the public.

Umarji’s lawyer, Wasu Pillay, said his client was married and had a six-year-old and a 10-month-old baby at home.

“He has never been charged for any criminal offence,” Mr Pillay said.

He told the court that when the ammunition was discovered on January 1, he (Umarji) was informed by a Police officer and since then until January 6, he continued to contact the Police to find out what was happening.

“In fact he co-operated with Police during that time period and on January 6 he voluntarily surrendered himself to Police,” Mr Pillay told the court.

“He is a Fijian citizen, has only one passport and is not a flight risk.”

Mr Pillay further submitted that they would abide by whatever bail conditions set by the court and this meant even if the curfew hours were broadened and a restraining order for him not to interfere with witnesses.

Mr Pillay said Umarji was the manager of three schools in Lautoka and the vice president of the Fiji Muslim League’s Lautoka branch.

Ali’s lawyer, Mark Anthony, in his submissions for bail said his client had a three-year-old daughter at home and was the only breadwinner in the family, which included his parents.

He said Ali had no previous conditions and when he was contacted by Police in regards to the alleged incident he voluntarily surrendered himself on January 6.

Mr Anthony said Ali was willing to surrender all his travel documents and that they had three sureties in court.

“My client would abide by any bail conditions set by this court and we’re willing to pay cash for bail,” Mr Anthony said.

Both defence lawyers also submitted previous rulings by High Court judges.

 

Other accused persons, Police help shield off businessman from media

Several accused persons and Police officers yesterday afternoon helped businessman, Aiyaz Mohammed Musa Umarji, hide from media cameras as he boarded the Police vehicle after being remanded.

Umarji, who is charged in relation to the discovery of 179 rounds of live M16 bullets, came out from the Lautoka Magistrates Court holding cell with a group of other accused persons who boarded the same vehicle for the Natabua Corrections facility.

This was witnessed by three media personnel from the Western Division.

Accused persons were laughing and saying: “Sorry no photo of him, can’t take it, no.”

Minutes before the escort, one Police officer came and told the driver of a Police vehicle to inform the media to go away and that they were not allowed to take photos.

As media personnel witnessed, the same officer went inside and had a short talk with Umarji.

Soon after other persons in remand came laughing and rushing to the vehicle and Umarji took shelter among them.

The media group at the scene discussed the matter with Police spokesperson, Ana Naisoro, who said the West team denied the issue adding that they were directing their comments to one of the remand persons who was obstructing the group being escorted to court.

But the incident before the media occurred when the officers and accused persons escorted Umarji to the Police vehicle as they were being taken to Natabua Corrections Facility.

Ms Naisoro said: “However, we have taken note of the concerns raised and will be addressing it. But the officers are fully aware of the media’s roles and allowing them the freedom to do their work.”

She assured members of the media that such issues would be addressed, if raised.

This is not the first time Police officers have stopped the media from trying to do their job.

Fiji Sun West journalists have experienced similar incidents at the Nadi Magistrates Court.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

 

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