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Convicted Drug Accused To Retain Seized Property

  The Fiji Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court order to release property belonging to a Kadavu farmer. The order was upheld after it found that the Director
09 Aug 2018 10:00
Convicted Drug Accused To Retain Seized Property

 

The Fiji Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court order to release property belonging to a Kadavu farmer.

The order was upheld after it found that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) did not submit a Forfeiture Order within 14 days of seizure as required by Section 31(4) of the Proceeds of Crimes Act 1997.

On January 3, 2012 Police Officers raided Apakuki Kauyaca Vitukawalu’s farm as part of “Operation Cavuraki” and seized 154 plants and 65 dried plants of Marijuana.

He was charged under the Illicit Drugs Act and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 11 years imprisonment. The Police also investigated the items that were allegedly acquired by Mr Vitukawalu from proceeds of the sale of marijuana and seized the items.

On April 14, 2016 the High Court ruled that the DPP could not expect the courts to make orders in respect to items that were seized illegally in breach of Sections 28 and 30 of the Proceeds of Crimes Act and held by the Police illegally in breach of Section 31(4).

The DPP appealed the decision on the ground that the learned judge had erred in law in declining to forfeit the property subject to the originating summons after finding that the items were tainted.

While handing down the decision Justice of Appeal Lyone Seneviratne partly allowed the DPP’s appeal against the High Court decision by ordering that both parties bear their own appeal costs.

He affirmed the decision of the High Court to dismiss and strike out the originating summons filed by the DPP on December 12, 2013 and ordered the release of the property to Mr Vitukawalu.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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