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Cokanauto Found Guilty

Pastor Jone Cokanauto of Jezreel Lion of Judah has been found guilty of all five counts of rape, four counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted rape. Cokanauto
27 Jun 2017 09:52
Cokanauto Found Guilty
Pastor Jone Cokanauto, founder of the Jezreel Lion of Judah ministry, is led away by Police officers after he was found guilty yesterday for rape, indecent assault and attempted rape by High Court judge Justice Salesi Temo. June 26, 2017 PHOTO: Jone Luvenitoga

Pastor Jone Cokanauto of Jezreel Lion of Judah has been found guilty of all five counts of rape, four counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted rape.

Cokanauto will be sentenced by the Suva High Court judge, Justice Salesi Temo today.

Here’s Justice Temo’s full judgment: STATE vs JONE RABUNO

COKANAUTO JUDGMENT

On 13 June 2017, in the presence of his counsel, the accused pleaded not guilty to the following counts in the following information:

COUNT ONE: Statement of Offence

RAPE: Contrary to Section 149 and 150 of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of February 2005 to the 28th day of February 2005, at Taveuni in the Northern Division, had unlawful carnal knowledge of U.D without her consent.

COUNT TWO: Statement of Offence

RAPE: Contrary to Section 149 and 150 of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of August 2005 to the 31st day of November 2005, at Nadera Nasinu in the Central Division had unlawful carnal knowledge of U.D without her consent.

COUNT THREE: Statement of Offence

RAPE: Contrary to Section 149 and 150 of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of July 2006 to the 31st day of December 2006, at Taveuni in the Northern Division had unlawful carnal knowledge of U.D without her consent.

COUNT FOUR: Statement of Offence

INDECENT ASSAULT: Contrary to Section 154(1) of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of January 2006 to the 31st day of July 2006, at Nadera, Nasinu in the Central Division unlawfully and indecently assaulted F.N.

COUNT FIVE: Statement of Offence

RAPE: Contrary to section 207 (1) and (2) (b) of the Crimes Act No. 44 of 2009

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of July 2012 to the 31st day of July 2012, at Welagi Taveuni in the Northern Division penetrated the vagina of F. N with his finger without her consent.

COUNT SIX: Statement of Offence

INDECENT ASSAULT: Contrary to section 154(1) of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of November 2005 to the 31st day of December 2005, at Nasinu in the central Division unlawfully and indecently assaulted R.V.

COUNT SEVEN: Statement of Offence

RAPE: Contrary to Section 149 and 150 of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of November 2005 to the 31st day of December 2005, at Nasinu in the Central Division had unlawful carnal knowledge of R.V without her consent.

COUNT EIGHT: Statement of Offence

ATTEMPTED RAPE: Contrary to section 151 of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of February 2006 to the 28th of February 2006, at Nadera, Nasinu in the Central Division, attempted to have unlawful carnal knowledge of K. L. V without her consent.

COUNT NINE: Statement of Offence

INDECENT ASSAULT: Contrary to Section 154 (1) of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of February 2006 to the 28th of February 2006, at Nadera, Nasinu in the Central Division, unlawfully and indecently assaulted K. L. V by kissing her lips.

COUNT TEN: Statement of Offence

INDECENT ASSAULT: Contrary to Section 154 (1) of the Penal Code Cap. 17.

Particulars of Offence

JONE RABUNO COKANAUTO between the 1st day of February 2006 to the 28th of February 2006, at Nadera, Nasinu in the Central Division, unlawfully and indecently assaulted K. L. V by penetrating her vagina with his finger.

“The trial then went on before myself and three assessors for eight days. The assessors returned with their opinions on 23 June 2017. Assessor No. 1 found the accused guilty as charged on counts no. 1 to 7, and not guilty as charged on counts no. 8, 9 and 10. Assessor No. 2 found the accused guilty as charged on all counts, while Assessor No. 3 found the accused not guilty as charged on all counts. The assessors’ opinions were mixed.

“The law at this stage of the trial I section 237 (1), (2), (4) and (5) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009, which reads as follows:

“…237 (1) When the case for the prosecution and the defence is closed, the judge shall sum up and shall then require each of the assessors to state their opinion orally, and shall record each opinion.

(2) The judge shall then give judgment, but in doing so shall not be bound to conform to the opinions of the assessors…

(4) When the judge does not agree with the majority opinion of the assessors, the judge shall give reasons for differing with the majority opinion, which shall be –

(a) written down; and

(b) pronounced in open court.

(5) In every such case the judge’s summing up and the decision of the court together with (where appropriate) the judge’s reasons for differing with the majority opinion of the assessors, shall collectively be deemed to be the judgment of the court for… all purposes…”

“In Ram Dulare, Chandar Bhan and Permal Naidu vs Reginam (1956 – 57), Fiji Law Report, Volume 5

pages 1 to 6, page 3, the Fiji Court of Appeal, said the following, on an equivalent section of the then

Part of the large crowd who were at the courthouse in Suva on June 26, 2017 for Cokanauto’s judgment

Part of the large crowd who were at the courthouse in Suva on June 26, 2017 for Cokanauto’s judgment

Criminal Procedure Code:

“…In our opinion learned counsel for the appellants is confusing the functions of the assessors with those of a Jury in a trial. In the case of the King v. Joseph 1948, Appeal case 215 the Privy Council pointed out that the assessors have no power to try or to convict and their duty is to offer opinions which might help the trial Judge.

The responsibility for arriving at a decision and of giving judgment in a trial by the High Court sitting with the assessors is that the trial Judge and the trial Judge alone and in the terms of the Criminal Procedure Code, section 308m he is not bound to follow the opinion of the assessors…”

“In Sakiusa Rokonabete v The State, Criminal Appeal No. AAU 0048 of 2005, the Fiji Court of Appeal

Said as follows: “…In Fiji, the assessors are not the sole judge of facts. The judge is the sole judge of facts in respect of guilt, and the assessors are there only, to offer their opinions, based on their views of the facts…”

The first assessor found Cokanauto guilty for counts one to seven and not guilty for counts eight to ten.

The second assessor found him guilty for all 10 counts.

The third assessor found him not guilty for all 10 counts.

Reasons for the guilty verdict:

“I find all complainants evidence credible and I accept their version of events. I accept complainant no. 1’s (PW1) evidence and allegations in count No. 1, 2 and 3. I accept her evidence that the accused often preached on the ‘woman from Samaria’ in Saint John, Chapter 4 verse 1 to 42, in the Bible.

I accept her evidence that the accused preached to them that if he inserts his penis into their vaginas and ejaculates therein, that will cleanse their womb and vagina. I accept her evidence that the accused preached to them that if a child is born, that child becomes the children of God and members of the Judah clan.

“I accept PW1’s evidence that because of the accused’s above interpretation of the ‘woman from Samaria’ story in the Bible and because she was a member of the Jezreel Lion of Judah Ministry then, she consented to the accused inserting his penis into her vagina and ejaculating therein, as alleged in count No. 1, 2 and 3. I also accept her evidence that as a result of the above, she bore two children to the accused, as alleged by her.

“I accept Doctor Donal McAlrath’s (PW5) evidence that Saint John, Chapter 4, verse 1 to 42, had nothing to do with sexual intercourse. I accept PW5’s evidence that the term ‘living water’ in Saint John, Chapter 4 had nothing to do with ‘sexual intercourse’. I accept PW5’s evidence that the term ‘living water’ in the above verse is often meant to mean the ‘gift of the holy spirit and the grace of God’. I accept PW5’s evidence that the “woman of Samaria’s” story was basically about a woman been evangelized and becomes a Christian. It had nothing to do with ‘sexuality’.

“Given PW5’s above version and PW1’s evidence, I find as a matter of fact that, the accused had misinterpreted Saint John Chapter 4 verse 1to 42 and the other teachings of the Bible, to enable him to corrupt young girls. I find that the accused, had misinterpreted the Bible and misrepresented the act of sexual intercourse and falsely reclassified it as an “act of cleansing women to purify them as temple of God”. By this interpretation, he had managed to deceive PW1 into giving herself to him, as alleged in count no 1, 2 and 3.

“With the above deceit and constant preaching to young vulnerable women, the accused had managed to entice complainant no. 2 (PW2), complainant no. 3 (PW3) and complainant no.4 (PW4) to his web of deceit. I accept PW2’s version of events and her allegations in counts no. 4 and 5. I accept PW3’s version of events and her allegations in counts no. 6 and 7. I accept PW4’s version of events and her allegations in counts no. 8, 9 and 10.

“I find that on most occasions, the complainants consented to the various sexual acts performed on them by the accused, at the material times; however, I find that the accused falsely misrepresented the sexual acts to the complainants in his sermons and biblical teachings, to the extent that he was in fact deceiving them as to the true nature of the acts, that is, he was not “cleansing them”, he was in fact raping, attempting to rape and indecently assaulting them. I find that their so called ‘consent’ to the sexual acts was  not real consent in law, and I find, as a matter of fact that all the complainants did not consent to the sexual acts done by the accused on all counts. I also find as a matter of fact that, at the times he was performing the sexual acts, he knew or couldn’t careless whether or not they were consenting to the sexual acts.

“I have heard the accused’s (DW1) sworn evidence. I have his 6 witnesses’ evidence. I find the accused and his witnesses’ evidence were not credible. When I put the prosecution’s witnesses’ evidence against the defence witnesses’ evidence together and compared them, I find the prosecution’s witnesses more forthright and not evasive. It was the opposite for the defence. I thus reject the accused’s sworn denials and reject the defence witnesses’ version of events.

“Given the above, I find the accused guilty as charged on all counts and I convict him accordingly on all counts.”

Outside the court, there was a huge crowd of Cokanauto’s followers and also the victims’ family members who came to listen to Justice Temo’s verdict.

Police reinforcement arrived to keep the crowd at bay and to get Cokanauto into the vehicle to take him to the remand centre.

Jezreel Lion of Judah leader Pastor Jone Cokanauto is taken to Korovou Corrections Centre after the guilty verdict on June 26, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga

Jezreel Lion of Judah leader Pastor Jone Cokanauto is taken to Korovou Corrections Centre after the guilty verdict on June 26, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga

Feedback:  jessica.gounder@fijisun.com.fj

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