Ex-Policeman Denies Rape Allegation

A 47-year-old police officer who allegedly raped a teenage girl in an old gym in Nasese denied all the allegations against him at the High Court in Suva yesterday. Michael
26 Jan 2017 10:17
Ex-Policeman Denies Rape Allegation

A 47-year-old police officer who allegedly raped a teenage girl in an old gym in Nasese denied all the allegations against him at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Michael Shalendra Pratap denied the allegations as he was called to take the stand by his lawyer, Mohammed Yunus.

It is alleged that Pratap raped the then 14-year-old, on January 22 last year.

It is alleged that he dragged her into an old gym near the Police Barracks and raped her.

He is charged with three counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.

The trial is being presided by Justice Perera from Monday.

Pratap told the court yesterday that he worked as a controller in the storage unit at the Nasese Police Post.

He had worked for the Police Force for the past 18 months since June 2014 in that position.

According to Pratap, he was accompanied at the office by two other colleagues, an inspector and a special constable.

He told the court that while studying for his Master of Business Administration programme last year, he had made arrangements with the inspector to stay back in the office to do his assignments and research from Mondays to Wednesdays.

He said that the approval was given as the other days were for him to pick his wife up from work.

The father of three told the court that he owned a green Toyota Corola that was usually parked in one of his colleague’s house that was a few metres away from the office.

Defence lawyer, Mr Yunus asked Pratap to recall the day of the incident.

Pratap said he finished work after 4pm and his two colleagues had left before him.

“I knocked off between 4:05pm to 4:10pm,” he said.

He told the court that he left work and called his wife to be ready as he would pick her up.

He said he received a call from his childhood friend who was on his way to Suva after 10.30am.

He was coming to Suva for the enrolment of his daughter at the Fiji Nursing School in Tamavua and will bring mangoes and sugar, said Pratap.

According to Pratap, he was still in the office when his friend had called him again after 4.20pm.

When defence lawyer Mr Yunus asked what the conversation was about, Pratap told the court that he was informing his friend that he was leaving the office to pick up his wife at Hoodless House in Brown Street.

“I told him to meet at home and bring the mangoes and sugar,” said Pratap.

The prosecutor from the office of Director of Prosecution Meli Vosawale objected to Yunus’ application to show the court Pratap’s tattoos on his legs which the victim had identified during her testimony on Monday.

Mr Yunus argued that a picture should have been taken of the rose tattoo that the complainant identified on the day the report was received in February 2016.

Mr Vosawale replied saying Pratap must have removed the tattoos during the one-year period before the hearing.

Justice Perera asked Mr Vosawale if he had any legal basis to stop the defendant from making the application.

Mr Vosawale was not able to.

Pratap told the court that he did not see the complainant around at all.

He said he was in the office most of the time and had not ever talked to her nor knew her parents.

He also denied the following allegations by the prosecution that; he tried to speak to her when she would go past the office; gave her lunch and juice at her high school; dragged her to the old gym; tied both her hands and undressed her at the old gym and then raped her.

During cross examination, the prosecutor Mr Vosawale asked Pratap if he was familiar with the Police storage and surrounding buildings.

Justice Perera asked the accused why he did not answer whether he knew it was locked; Pratap answered that he was not aware if it was locked.

Pratap agreed that he was familiar with the surrounding buildings and that the containers and entrance were close to the old gym.

Mr Yunus objected to Mr Vosawale’s question on whether people could see inside the gym after it had been locked.

Justice Perera said the question was of fact and not opinion.

Pratap denied knowing the victim’s family.

He also confirmed that he has seen her a few times walking past the office after school.

Mr Vosawale had to question Pratap several times before he conceded and agreed that he would see the victim return from school.

Mr Vosawale asked: I will ask again, would you agree that you would see her walk past the police store?

Pratap said: “Yes in the afternoon.”

When Mr Vosawale asked if he would agree that he made the final checks on the containers, making sure it was locked properly; Pratap replied in the affirmative.

When Mr Vosawale asked if he would agree that he made sure no one else was inside the facility of the Police storage; Pratap said his only concern was the office and container was securely locked as all the access points were accessible to those living in the quarters.

Pratap denied he saw the complainant when Mr Vosawale asked him if he would agree that while checking to ensure the containers were locked, he saw the complainant.

Mr Vosawale: “Would you agree that you had seen that she was walking alone between the containers and old gym and you pulled her hand?”

Pratap: “No.”

Mr Vosawale: “Did you pull her hand with some strength?”

Pratap: “No.”

Mr Vosawale: “Because you were physically bigger than the victim, her resistance came to no avail?”

Pratap: “I was not with her at that moment when checking all three buildings.”

Justice Perera was not convinced that there was any inconsistency in the times provided by Pratap in the evidence in chief and testimony in court yesterday despite Mr Vosawale’s attempt to prove it.

Defence lawyer, Mr Yunus, brought a second witness, Vinia Yauva, a security officer at the Hoodless House in Brown Street.

“I was downstairs near the main entrance before the staff were finishing work at that particular day,” Ms Yauva said.

“I stood there and I did not go anywhere else until they board the car,” said Ms Yauva.

Ms Yauva said she could not recall the colour of Mr Pratap’s car as it was busy during that hour.

She told the court that she stood at that place around 4.30-4.37pm when Mr Pratap had arrived.

The trial continues today at the High Court in Suva today.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika


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