Woman Tells Court: I am Here Because I Know My Husband is not Wrong

  Asenaca Pratap agreed with prosecutor Meli Vosawale when he asked her if she did not want to see her husband, Michael Shalendra Pratap, get into trouble. Pratap is being
27 Jan 2017 11:43
Woman Tells Court: I am Here Because  I Know My Husband is not Wrong
Michael Shalendra Pratap at the Suva high court yesterday.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.


Asenaca Pratap agreed with prosecutor Meli Vosawale when he asked her if she did not want to see her husband, Michael Shalendra Pratap, get into trouble.

Pratap is being tried for the alleged rape of a girl, then 14-years-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 Vincent Perera.

Mrs Pratap was called to take the stand yesterday as defence lawyer Mohammed Yunus’ alibi witness at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

She made her statement during the cross examination.

“Because you love your husband so much, you do not want to see him getting into trouble, do you agree with me?” asked Mr Vosawale.

“No,” she said.

Before this, Mr Yunus had asked her: “Do you love your husband?”

“Yes,” replied Mrs Pratap.

“You would not like to see your husband go to jail,” said Mr Yunus.

“No,” replied she said.

“Would you help him if he does anything wrong?” asked Yunus.

“No. If it is wrong, I would not be here today. I am here today because I know he is not wrong,” she told the court.

Mrs Pratap told the Court that she has been married to the accused for 16 years.

She has been working for the Fiji National University’s College of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences in Tamavua since 2010.

She told the court that she clearly remembered the day of the alleged incident, January 22, 2016 because it was her last day at the College of Medicine.

She was transferred to Nursing School in February last year.

She graduated with a Certificate in Stenography and is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Management and Accounting.

She told the Court that on this particular day, her evening class was cancelled by her lecturer who had posted the message on Moodle.

Her classes were on Wednesdays and Fridays in the evening.

She said she had informed her husband about her class and told him they would go home directly.

According to the evidence provided by Mr Yunus, it showed the time that Mrs Pratap and her workmate, Zara Shah, signed off at 4.20pm within the company’s log book.

She told the Court that she received a call from her husband at 4pm who told her to get ready as he would pick her up.

“Around 4.20pm I got ready with my friend Zarah. We signed off at 4.20pm, then walked down to wait at the main entrance to wait for the car,” she said.

“Did he (Pratap) turn up?” asked Mr Yunus.

“Yes. We went out and in 10 minutes time he came to pick us,” Mrs Pratap said.

She informed the Court that her workmate, Ms Shah, had boarded the car with her and was dropped off at the Valelevu bus stop that afternoon, then they went straight to their home in Nadawa.

She said her parents, three daughters, and niece were at their home when she and her husband arrived.

However, during cross examination by Mr Vosawale, he asked her to confirm whether she could see that the digits “4” and “20” and “PM” signed by Ms Shah were in bold.

She confirmed it was.

However, she denied that the digits were written over something.

She also denied making up this alibi to save her husband. Vinia Yauva, security officer at the Hoodless House in Brown Street was cross examined by Mr Vosawale before Mr Yunus called Mrs Pratap to take the stand.

Mr Yunus had called Ms Yauva to take the stand yesterday afternoon and continues today.

Ms Yauva had worked as an in-house security officer for Hoodless House in Brown Street, for three years.

She told the Court that she was well acquainted with the staff members, but denied having a close relationship with them.

“I do not know her very well. Because she is a new staff. Only and until the time she came and worked there, that is how I came to know her,” she said.

“How did you know then that Mr Pratap was driving the car?” asked Mr Vosawale.

“I only saw him that day when he came to pick his wife. I did not see him often. Only when he had come to pick his wife,” she replied.

Ms Yauva said she only came to know that Pratap was her husband when she had asked him one day.

When Mr Vosawale asked her how many times the accused had picked Mrs Pratap up, she said: “I did not see him often, only when he came to pick his wife.”

She told that Court that despite the busy day, especially at that hour, she had seen Pratap pick his wife on January 22 between 4.30pm and 4.37pm.

However, she was unable to recall the colour of the car despite claiming to see Mrs Pratap board the vehicle a few steps away from her.

Mr Vosawale: You would agree with me that you did not remember that afternoon clearly?

Ms Yauva: Yes

Mr Vosawale: Do you agree that Asenaca specifically told you to remember 4.30-4.37pm?

Ms Yauva: Yes

Mr Vosawale: When in fact, you would you agree that he was not there at that time?

Ms Yauva: He was there.

When Mr Yunus asked her again whether she saw Mrs Pratap board the car between 4.30-4.37pm, she said yes.

Eight witnesses for a four day rape trial will be decided today.

Mr Yunus’ last alibi witness, Vijay Lal, was then summoned to take the stand.

The taxi proprietor has been Pratap’s next door neighbour for seven years.

Mr Lal told the Court that he saw Pratap and his wife arrive home at 5.30pm, as also mentioned when the couple took the stand.

However, Mr Vosawale questioned him for giving his Police statement 5-6 months later.

Mr Lal’s Police statement was made on May 27, 2016.

Mr Vosawale: You could only recall that date because Asenaca asked you to recall it?” asked Mr Vosawale.

“No,” he replied.

“Look at that written statement. Look at line 20.

It says “I then met Asenaca who then told me the allegation against Michael was on the 22nd of January 2016.’ Do you agree that is in your statement?” asked Vosawale.

“Yes,” replied Mr Lal.

“Do you remember that Asenaca asked you to remember that date?” asked Mr Vosawale.

“Asenaca called me in February and she said she wants my help to bail Michael and that is the time she told me,” said Mr Lal.

“You agree that Michael was not at home at 5.30pm?” asked Mr Vosawale again.

“He was at home,” replied Mr Lal.

Mr Lal told the Court that after the couple had arrived home, Pratap had asked him if he could talk to him for a while.

He told the Court that Pratap had visited him at 6.30pm to discuss his vehicle that was intended to be brought to the Land Transport Authority.

Mr Lal denied that the conversation was not on any other day, but the day of the alleged incident when asked by Mr Vosawale.

“She told me on the third week of February,” said Mr Lal in response to Mr Yunus’s final question before he was asked to leave the stand.

The judgment of the case will be held today at 12.30pm at the High Court in Suva.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa



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