NEWS

Aussie ‘showed location of cocaine bars

The High Court in Suva heard yesterday that Australian national John Nikolic showed Customs officers where to find three bars of cocaine on his luxury yacht Shenanigans on June 22
29 Jan 2019 09:33
Aussie ‘showed  location of  cocaine bars
Australian couple John Nikolic and wife Yvette Nikolic outside the High Court on January 28, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

The High Court in Suva heard yesterday that Australian national John Nikolic showed Customs officers where to find three bars of cocaine on his luxury yacht Shenanigans on June 22 last year.

This is after he was confronted about the discovery of 10 bars of cocaine inside the yacht during a search at Denarau Marina in Nadi.

This was revealed by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Lee Burney yesterday during day one of the trial for Australian couple John and Yvette Nikolic.

The couple deny five counts of importing and possessing illicit drugs, arms and ammunition.

During his opening address, Mr Burney said when Mrs Nikolic purchased the luxury yacht in October 2017, she named it Shenanigans which may have been an inside joke.

He said to the outside world the couple was living the dream embarking on a journey in their yacht, however in secret they were involved in the international drug trade.

The High Court heard that the couple sailed from the United States of America to Colombia through the Panama Canal and visited several islands before heading to their home base in Australia.

Prior to their arrival at Denarau Port on June 19, 2018, Mr Nikolic filled an electronic declaration form on the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service website notifying Customs and border authorities about their expected arrival date in Fiji.

Senior Customs Officer Kelemedi Vakarua testified under oath that he analysed the yacht’s declaration form on June 20 and decided to request more information about the vessel after he identified several indicators which prompted him to look into the yacht.

He said, however, their maritime analyst based at the Stanley Brown Naval base in Walu Bay could not provide him with the location of the yacht because the yacht’s automatic identification system was switched off.

Mr Burney said it took a very thorough search of the yacht by officers and sniffer dogs on June 22 to find 65 tablets of cocaine, two pistols, 112 rounds of live ammunition and a bundle of cash amounting to $15,000.

He said Mr Nikolic collapsed beside his wife on that day after visiting the washroom and was in respiratory arrest after a drug overdose.

Mr Burney added that the search continued a few days after what he called Mr Nikolic’s attempted suicide drama and more drugs were found behind a panel in the yacht’s lounge area.

The trial continues before Justice Daniel Goundar today.

Both accused persons are remanded in custody.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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