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Man Acquitted Of Illicit Drugs Find

A man charged with one count of possession of il­licit drugs and two counts of cultivation of illicit drugs has been acquitted by the High Court in Labasa. Assessors in
26 Jul 2018 11:00
Man Acquitted Of Illicit Drugs Find

A man charged with one count of possession of il­licit drugs and two counts of cultivation of illicit drugs has been acquitted by the High Court in Labasa.

Assessors in the case against Navinesh Prasad earlier returned a not guilty opinion.

Mr Prasad appeared before Jus­tice Paul Madigan on Monday.

It was alleged that on February 7, 2016, Police officers raided Mr Prasad’s home and found a small amount of dried marijuana leaves and seeds.

However, during the trial Mr Prasad testified he was ambushed by about 20 officers who forced their way into his house without saying why they were there and without showing him a search warrant.

He claimed the items found were not his and when he denied the knowledge of the items pro­duced he said he was slapped and pushed against the wall.

Justice Madigan said during the trial it was apparent the case had been poorly prepared.

“Photographs were taken on the team leader’s mobile phone, but were never properly developed or produced in court,” Justice Madi­gan said.

“Some witness expanded on their original evidence, adding undisclosed evidence to the preju­dice of the accused.”

Justice Madigan said statements were missing and the officers gave evidence which, in many as­pects, contradicted each other.

“Most importantly there was no evidence as to the chain of evi­dence relating to movements of exhibits,” he said.

“It was assumed that the plants seized were delivered to the sta­tion and kept there to be shown to the suspect in his interview, but there was no evidence of that.

“No evidence was given as to who carried the plants out from the farm or who took them to the station or who received them at the station and recorded them as exhibits.

“There was no evidence given as to the production of plants before the chemist or her Superior or of the weighing of plants.

“The chemist is not a Govern­ment chemist in terms of section 36 (1) of the Illicit Drug Control Act and as a result her certificate is not prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein.

“It would be dangerous to con­vict the accused on the evidence.

“The court cannot be sure be­yond reasonable doubt that the accused…. the drug samples test­ed were in fact those seized at the plantation or in the house,” he said.

Justice Madigan agreed with the unanimous opinions of the asses­sors and found the accused not guilty.

Edited by Epineri Vula

 

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