NEWS

Former Fiji Airways Staff In Court For Exporting Cocaine, Illicit Drugs

He is charged with unlawful importation and exportation contrary to Section 4 (1) of the Illicit Drugs Control Act 2004.
02 Apr 2019 08:59
Former Fiji Airways Staff In Court For Exporting Cocaine, Illicit Drugs
Frederick Epeli.

Drug-related offences have become a menace, said a magistrate yesterday. Nadi magistrate Nirosha Kannangara said this while refusing a bail application by a flight attendant charged with drug-related offences.

Frederick Epeli, 40, who was a flight attendant of Fiji Airways, appeared in the Nadi Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon.

He is charged with unlawful importation and exportation contrary to Section 4 (1) of the Illicit Drugs Control Act 2004.

It is alleged that on December 23, 2018, Epeli and another without lawful authority facilitated to export two parcels of cocaine weigh- ing 2015.7 grams.

On the second count, he is charged with unlawful possession, manufacture, cultivation and supply contrary to Section 5 (b) of the Illicit Drugs Control Act 2004.

It is alleged that on December 23, 2018, Epeli and another engaged in dealing for the transfer, transport, supply, use, manufacture, offer, sale, import or export of cocaine.

The charges were read out to Epeli, who told the court that he understood them.

Police prosecution objected to bail, saying the charges were serious in nature and the amount of drugs involved was a little more than two kilograms.

The prosecution said the accused was a flight attendant and witnesses were of the same job description and well known to the accused person and the co-accused was still at large.

The prosecution submitted that the accused be remanded in custody because if he was released on bail, he would be a flight risk.

Epeli’s lawyer, Ashneil Nadan, applied for bail saying that it was the first time his client had been charged with an offence.

“He has no previous convictions and there are two sureties present in court, willing to pay cash bond of $5000 or any other amount,” he told the court.

“He can report to the Police station three times a week or even daily. He’s the sole breadwinner in his family and right now is doing farming.

“He was interviewed in December last year and it took Police three months to charge him.

“As the prosecution said that they had circumstantial evidence, my client is innocent until proven guilty.”

Mr Nadan told the court that his client had submitted himself to the Police on three occasions for questioning and he had cooperated with Police.

He assured the court that Epeli would not interfere with witnesses if granted bail.

“In terms of the co-accused, my client has no dealings with him and police are yet to apprehend him,” Mr Nadan said.

“My client has been locked out of the Fiji Airways premises and he’s doing farming from January this year.”

Ms Kannangara said she had considered the applications from prosecution and the defence lawyer.

Due to the seriousness of the offence, and that such offences were a menace and considering public interest, she remanded the accused in custody.

Epeli will now appear in the High Court in Lautoka on April 10 when a plea is expected to be taken.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: avinesh.gopal@fijisun.com.fj

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