NEWS

Nikolic ‘Told Me This Was His Way Out’

A prosecution witness Fiji Revenue and Customs Service officer Fenton Williams, yesterday revealed in court that Australian national John Nikolic had shared with him that he owed money to some dangerous people and could not possibly pay it back and this was his only way out.
01 Feb 2019 10:00
Nikolic ‘Told Me This Was His Way Out’
John Nikolic and Yvette Dianne Nikolic outside the High Court on January 31, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

A prosecution witness Fiji Revenue and Customs Service officer Fenton Williams, yesterday revealed in court that Australian national John Nikolic had shared with him that he owed money to some dangerous people and could not possibly pay it back and this was his only way out.

The court heard the witness’s statement during the High Court trial of Australian couple John Nikolic and Yvette Nikolic.

The couple appeared before Justice Daniel Goundar yesterday for their fourth day of trial.

The State was represented by Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions lawyers Yogesh Prasad and Shelyn Kiran and Assistant DPP Lee Burney.

The two defence lawyers were from Lautoka-based Gordon and Company law firm. Ronald Gordon represents Yvette Nikolic, while John Nikolic, a successful and well known horse trainer, is represented by Wasu Pillay.

The charges:

The couple are facing two counts each for importing illicit drugs, possessing illicit drugs and one count of possessing arms and ammunition without holding an arms licence.

For importing an illicit drug, it is alleged that the couple, without lawful authority, imported illicit drugs namely cocaine weighing 12.9 kilograms and methamphetamine tablets weighing 34.4 grams.

For possessing an illicit drug, it is alleged that the couple, without lawful authority, had in their possession illicit drugs namely cocaine weighing 12.9 kilograms and meth- amphetamine tablets weighing 34.4 grams. The estimated values of the illicit drugs are between $20 million and $30 million.

For the count of possessing arms and ammunition without holding an arms licence, it is alleged that the couple had in their possession arms and ammunition namely two pistols and 112 rounds of ammunition without holding an arms licence.

The incident allegedly took place in June 2018, at Port Denarau Marina, Nadi.

Trial Day 4:

Meanwhile, the fifth prosecution witness FRCS staff Josua Volau told the court that while he was searching the yacht Shenanigans he found a blue bag.

He said he then removed the bag and took it to a Senior Customs Officer who asked him to open the bag and search it, where he found 10 bars of white substance wrapped in black and grey duct tape.

Mr Volau said another senior Customs officer tested one of the bars of the white substance on the first defender kit, which indicated the substance was cocaine. He also told the court that the three bars found later were hard to retrieve because they were kept in a concealed place.

He also told the court that after John was taken to the hospital, Mr Volau thought of the currency and asked a crew member, Geoffrey Hassel, about the safe and was shown its location.

He said the safe was located in the lazarette locker and he found a package inside which were two packages. Mr Volau revealed that one package had a pistol and ammunition and the second package had another pistol, ammunition, a container which contained three bundles of US currency and a plastic containing ecstasy tablets.

During cross examination by Mr Gordon, Mr Volau revealed that he was not wearing any gloves during the search.

He also informed the court that no fingerprint or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) tests were carried out.

The prosecution’s sixth witness, senior Customs officer Amit Ram said he was ordered to search the yacht with his K9 dog Eto.

Mr Ram has been with drug enforcement unit for the past 13 years and said K9 Eto was trained to identify illicit drugs and had done so on the yacht.

Mr Ram said he asked his team to mark the spot where his dog was for the place to be further searched.

He highlighted that the first defender kit was a machine which had a built-in library of more than 55,000 chemicals and drugs to be tested.

He said when the 10 bars were found in the blue bag, he cut a small portion of one of the 10 bars to test on the first defender kit and it proved to be cocaine.

During cross-examination by Mr Gordon, Mr Ram was asked if one of the cabins numbered 18 belonged to his client, Yvette, and if narcotics was found in the cabin. Mr Ram responded no.

Mr Pillay asked Mr Ram if he had tested all 13 bars that were found and Mr Ram responded no and told the court that only one bar was tested.

The prosecution’s seventh witness, FRCS team leader for dog unit Sakuisa Lasaqa told the court that when they approached the safe, it was already opened and nothing was found in the safe in the lazarette locker.

During cross-examination, Mr Gordon asked Mr Lasaqa if Geoffrey Hassel had assisted the search team in finding the other items on the yacht. Mr Lasaqa said he only recalled Mr Hassel informing them where the safe was located.

FRCS Customs officer for the inspection section in Lautoka for the past 24 years, Fenton Williams, told the court that when he questioned John Nikolic if he had anything else to declare apart from what he had declared in the arrival form, John had responded no.

Mr Williams said that John Nikolic had complimented them for their work and asked to see his wife as she and the crew members were not aware of the drugs and ammunition being on board.

He said in a while, Yvette Nikolic tapped his shoulder asking for help saying John Nikolic was not responding.

He said John Nikolic seemed to have trouble breathing and it was as if someone was choking him. He said they quickly laid John on his side and put a cushion underneath his head and by then they had managed to get medical assistance.

The matter was adjourned to 11.30am today.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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