Crime

Evidence Destruction May Lead to Fiji’s Biggest Marijuana Haul Case Being Thrown Out

Justice Temo questioned the prosecutor how and why the evidence was destroyed.
10 Jun 2019 13:06
Evidence Destruction May Lead to Fiji’s Biggest Marijuana Haul Case Being Thrown Out

The High Court may have to throw out a case involving what has been labelled as Fiji’s biggest marijuana haul from Navosa, central Viti Levu, because the evidence has been destroyed.

Justice Salesi Temo has ordered the prosecutor in the case to find the grounds on which Police destroyed the evidence and said if there was no evidence, then there was no case against the accused.

This was after the prosecutor from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Siteri Navia revealed the destruction of evidence in the Police evidence room.

Ms Navia told the court she was informed after the evidence was destroyed. 36-year-old farmer Mesulame Kurinaicoba of Navosa appeared before Justice Temo charged with one count of unlawful cultivation of illicit drugs.

It is alleged that Kurinaicoba, between October 1, 2016 and March 3, 2017, at Navosa, unlawfully cultivated 1589 plants of marijuana weighing 198 kilograms.

Kurinaicoba pleaded not guilty to the charge. Ms Navia told the court that the State would rely on the admissions in the caution interview statement.

Justice Temo questioned the prosecutor how and why the evidence was destroyed and whether there was any court order issued by the Magistrates Court in Sigatoka.

Ms Navia told the court that she was not aware of any court order issued by the court to destroy the evidence, however, she would consult with the Sigatoka Court Registry to find out.

He said if there was no order issued, then it meant the Police officers were tampering with the evidence of the case, which is yet to undergo trial.

“The Police officers seem like they do not know what they are doing. The matter had been sitting in the Magistrates Court in Sigatoka for more than two years whereas it should have been transferred to the High Court on the first appearance.

“How come they did not make an application to transfer the matter to the High Court it was beyond their jurisdiction to trial?

“I can see the cases in the Magistrates Court lingers around for years.

“This marijuana case, out of all the marijuana cases, is the highest and biggest one and yet it was heard in the Magistrates Court for two years, whereas the case could have been heard in the
High Court long time ago,” Justice Temo said.

He also fixed the matter for trial to commence on November 4 to November 15.

The matter was adjourned for a pre-trial conference to June 28.

Bail for the accused was further extended.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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