Lawyer Ordered To Appear In Court

A lawyer representing four of the eight accused charged with abuse of office has been ordered to appear at the High Court in Suva today. Justice Rajasinghe decided yesterday that
02 Mar 2017 11:00
Lawyer Ordered To  Appear In Court

A lawyer representing four of the eight accused charged with abuse of office has been ordered to appear at the High Court in Suva today.

Justice Rajasinghe decided yesterday that a Court Order be sent to Vakaloloma and Associates to have Aseri Vakaloloma and Nacanieli Bulisea to appear before the High Court in Suva.

During the continuation of trial yesterday morning, it was noted that Vakaloloma was not present and neither was there any counsel on instruction.

It was brought to Justice Rajasinghe’s attention that Mr Vakaloloma’s legal practising license has not been renewed.

According to Avneel Chand, senior counsel from the Legal Practitioner’s Unit (LPU), the associates of the firm informed the court on Tuesday that they had already sent their application but it was discovered that they had only sent their application yesterday at 11:30am.

However, Mr Chand told the court that the Registrar had not received an application from Mr Vakaloloma so far but would check the records again.

The court ordered Mr Chand to look into the matter and seek actions that can be taken against him.

Justice Rajasinghe said Mr Vakaloloma did not advise the court on this matter and it was a deliberate disrespect to the court.

Mr Vakaloloma is representing Ana Laqere, Amelia Vunisea, Laisa Halafi and Kiniviliame Taviraki.

Mr Vakaloloma had appeared in the Lautoka High Court yesterday in another case despite the ongoing trial that he was involved in.

He also did not inform the judge in the Lautoka High Court of the same issue as well.

Yesterday was the 5th day of the trial.

The court heard that Mr Bulisea, a counsel for Vakaloloma and Associates had been appearing on instruction from Vakaloloma since the abuse case trial commenced last Thursday.

Court noted that Vakaloloma had not been involved in the case since the beginning.

Justice Rajasinghe said he could not believe someone of this seniority would abandon the hearing and appear in another court.

Justice Rajasinghe stated that Vakaloloma’s acts had stopped the entire proceeding for the trial, “this is the longest trial for the 2017 calendar of the court”. The trial was to have lasted for six weeks.

Mr Rashmi Asalam, FICAC State Counsel told the court that Mr Vakaloloma was found to be in contempt of court since the moment he decided not to apply for his Practicing Certificate and his behavior showed that he had no interest in serving his clients or the court.

Rajasinghe told to Bulisea that he now considers him and Mr Vakaloloma as ordinary citizens and the court will take legal action if the order is not abided to.

The Judge stated this was very serious concern and very unworthy of an officer of the law.

Ana Laqere informed the Court that they had been paying Mr Vakaloloma $100 per week and had almost paid him $1000 in total.

The matter will be called today for Vakaloloma and Bulisea to give their positions whereby the court will deliver his decision on the matter.

The four accused are advised by the court to seek legal aid assistance or choose to represent themselves.

The accused persons are facing charges of 7 counts Abuse of Office and 35 causing a loss and two counts of obtaining a Financial Advantage.

The seven accused persons are former employees of the PWD while the eight accused, Shelveen Narayan who had pleaded guilty to his charges is the Director of Phoenix Hardware Engineering and General Supplies, Ontime Stationery Supplies and Shavel Stationery Supplies.

Three lawyers from the Legal Aid Commission are appearing for Tavenisa Tavaga, Vaciseva Lagai and Vilisi Tuitavuki.


Edited by Ranoba Baoa


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