NEWS

Judge Warns Prosecution Witness

WARNING:Contains Some Graphic Content Suva Judge Justice Salesi Temo warned the fourth prosecution witness yesterday that she needed to testify in a rape trial or he would lock her up.
16 Jun 2017 10:46
Judge Warns Prosecution Witness
Jone Cokanauto

WARNING:Contains Some Graphic Content

Suva Judge Justice Salesi Temo warned the fourth prosecution witness yesterday that she needed to testify in a rape trial or he would lock her up.

In the trial of Jone Cokanauto, of Jezreel Lion of Judah Church, the fourth prosecution witness who was also allegedly raped by Cokanauto refused to give evidence in court and had wanted to preserve her right to remain silent.

Justice Temo said: “Witnesses do not have that right, but only accused do. I will lock you in prison till the day you open your mouth to answer the questions.”

The witness further told the court that she felt like she was betraying her husband if she gave evidence against his family.

In reply, Justice Temo told her that she was in court to help them resolve the allegations against Cokanauto.

“I have faced this before and I have locked those women up till the day they opened their mouths,” said Justice Temo.

State lawyer Meli Vosawale informed the court that the fourth prosecution witness did make an application to withdraw from the case. However, the Director of Public Prosecution’s decision was that she had to come to court to give evidence as the allegations were serious.

Justice Temo said: “I refuse anyone to interfere with the due process of the court and you have already been sworn in and now you’re refusing to answer.

“I have the power to remand you for eight days until you’re ready to answer questions and there is a big obligation on you to give evidence.

“I don’t let anyone stand in my way in the way of my duty and I don’t want to lock you in prison, but by the virtue of the law I am a servant of the law.”

The witness who is a bank officer and has obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Tourism and Management from the University of the South Pacific agreed that she would give evidence today.

 

Charge

Cokanauto is charged with three counts each of rape of the first victim which is alleged to have happened between February 1, 2005 and December 31, 2006 at Taveuni and Nadera.

Cokanauto is again charged with one count each of rape and indecent assault of the second complainant which is alleged to have happened between January 1, 2006 and July 31, 2012 at Taveuni and Nadera.

Cokanauto is further charged with one count each of rape and indecent assault of the third victim which is alleged to have happened between November 1, 2005 and December 31, 2005 at Nasinu.

He is also charged with one count of attempted rape and two counts of indecent assault of the fourth victim which is alleged to have happened between February 1, 2006 and February 28, 2006 at Nadera.

 

Prosecution witness three:

Third complainant

A 31-year-old woman was the third complainant to testify against Cokanauto. She told the court that when she was 16-years-old she was allegedly raped by the accused.

She said that in 2005 she had gone for a mission in Drauniivi for three months and when the mission team returned to Suva, during the service a youth felt a spirit moving in the house after which they were told that it was time for the mission team that went to Drauniivi to be redeemed.

She further told the court that Cokanauto had wanted to get her sexually excited for the redeeming ritual. The third witness said:

“There were four of us in the bedroom, two girls were standing at a corner praying while Cokanauto was sitting on the bed next to me.

“He said he was going to redeem me this morning. He said don’t be ashamed as I have to open up to him so that I could be redeemed.”

She further stated that Cokanauto had to finally have sex with her to fulfil the redeeming ritual because she had failed to respond according to the initial redeeming process.

“At that time I believed that by having sex with Cokanauto I would be redeemed.

“He told me to lie down on the bed and he kept saying to see him as a man of God as he was trying to deliver me from my sins.”

She further said that the other two girls continued praying as it was part of the redeeming ritual.

The witness said she felt awkward and confused. Cokanauto told her to wash herself after their contact so she doesn’t get pregnant.

State prosecutor Lavinia Bogitini asked her what ‘ejaculation in her’ represented, to which she said that it was Cokanauto delivering his water of life to her.

“I believed than that he was performing an act of God for the redeeming process and that it was spiritual and for me to be cleansed spiritually by having sex with my pastor is spiritual,” she said.

She stated that she was told that she had to be delivered because they felt that she had a bad spirit in her and she had to be cleansed.

Ms Bogitini asked her why she had not told anybody about the incident, to which she said that it was a tabu for them to share with others and that the incident would stay with her.

“As a man of God I respected him, but now I don’t because I couldn’t believe that I had slept with the pastor,” she said.

She further informed the court that it took her so long to report the matter because she was scared that something might happen to her or she might die if she talked about the church ministry.

Defence lawyer Semi Valenitabua told the woman that Cokanauto said the incident was not true because it never happened, to which she said it was true and that it did happen.

Mr Valenitabua further said that Cokanauto never preached that in order for her to be redeemed she had to have sex with him, to which she said yes, and that he did it on a one to one basis in the room.

He further asked if the woman was aware of the big sum of money that was donated to the church by her uncle to which she said ‘yes’.

He asked her how her family felt about that decision made by her uncle to which she replied saying that ‘it’s his money he can do whatever he wants with it’.

The case continues today with the fourth woman to take the stand to give her evidence.

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola

Feedback:  jessica.savike@fijisun.com.fj


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