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I Am Faithful to My Wife, Pastor tells High Court

Pastor Jone Cokanauto of Jezreel Lion of Judah Church told the High Court in Suva yesterday that he was faithful to his wife. State counsel Meli Vosawale told Cokanauto that
22 Jun 2017 11:00
I Am Faithful to My Wife,  Pastor tells High Court
Jone Cokanauto outside the High Court in Suva on June 21, 2017. Photo: Jessica Savike

Pastor Jone Cokanauto of Jezreel Lion of Judah Church told the High Court in Suva yesterday that he was faithful to his wife.

State counsel Meli Vosawale told Cokanauto that he was not faithful to his wife when he allegedly had sex with victim one in 2006 with whom he allegedly has a child.

“It’s not true, I am more than 100 per cent faithful to my wife,” said Cokanauto.

He is facing multiple charges of rape and indecent assault.

Charges:

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

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

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

Cross-examination: Cokanauto

State counsel Mr Vosawale stated to Cokanauto that he had ruled that none of the members of his church was to question his teachings.

He responded saying that they had a right to ask and that they did question him.

“I know their voices and they know my voice,” said Cokanauto.

Cokanauto was further asked if all the four victims believed in his preaching and if they respected him to which he said, “yes”.

He denied preaching about the importance of being redeemed and further stated that there were other men in the prayer group who performed the redeeming process.

He denied that the redeeming process was for women but rather it was for the land.

“I redeem the land to God, it is the redeeming of the land and the deliverance of the people,” Cokanauto said.

Cokanauto denied all the allegations put to him by Mr Vosawale and told the court that they were not true and that he only prayed for the first victim.

“I am telling the truth and I am not trying to save myself,” he said.

Mr Vosawale asked Cokanauto about the DNA test that was done when allegations were put to him that he was the father of the first alleged victim’s child.

Cokanauto was asked to read a certain part of the DNA report which stated: “There is strong scientific conclusion that Jone Cokanauto is the biological father.”

Cokanauto denied the results of the DNA test.

He told the court that his sermon of John 4 was linked with Proverbs 5: 15-18 which was about faithfulness between the husband and the wife.

Mr Vosawale told Cokanauto that the redeeming process was his teaching to which he said that it was all lies.

Cokanauto said: “It is not my preaching and I used John 4 the way God wants me to interpret.”

It was further put to Cokanauto by Mr Vosawale that he used the biblical word of John 4 to satisfy his own sexual pleasure.

“No that’s a lie, I only preach the word of God and they address me as a man of God but I didn’t call myself that,” he said.

Mr Vosawale further put it to Cokanauto that he was not man enough to own up to the alleged acts.

Cokanauto responded aggressively saying: “It’s only these four saying that, I want the whole church inside here.”

The third defence witness who was related to Cokanauto told the court that the prayer sessions used to happen in Cokanauto’s bedroom among eight to 10 people.

Judge Justice Salesi Temo asked the witness if they had a prayer place where the group could go and pray. She said yes, inside the church.

Justice Temo further asked her why there was a need for them to pray in their leader’s bedroom if they had a prayer place.

“If it’s a difficult case like when someone is possessed then we use the bedroom,” said the witness.

She was further asked by Justice Temo: “Why not the church because that’s where the Godly spirits are.”

She replied saying that when there were sick people, they had to take them into the bedroom for deliverance.

The fourth defence witness who was the sister-in-law of the second alleged victim denied going to Nadera with the second victim where she was allegedly raped by Cokanauto.

Defence counsel Semi Valenitabua asked the fourth witness to tell the court the message in John chapter 4.

The fourth witness said: “Jesus told the Samaritan Woman that if he gives her living water she will not thirst again.

“It’s about marriage and how sacred it is and that if a woman has five husbands then she is a prostitute according to the language in the bible.

“It’s about how God is married to the church, to the land and to everything.”

She further told the court that the four women’s perception on the sermon was false.

She was questioned by Justice Temo on why her family had left the ministry.

This question was asked after state counsel Lavinia Bogitini asked the witness if the reason for her father leaving the church was because Cokanauto had allegedly impregnated her sister.

The witness replied that her father left the church because “he wanted to explore his own faith by himself.”

Justice Temo said: “When a person leaves a ministry to explore his own faith it means that he has rejected the ministry so give me a straight answer.”

The witness responded that her father wanted to search for God on his own.

“If a daughter remains in a ministry and the father leaves then that creates a tension,” said Justice Temo.

Ms Bogitini further asked the witness if she was present in court when the fourth victim was giving evidence to which she said, “yes”.

The case continues today as both parties file closing submission.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  jessica.gounder@fijisun.com.fj



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