Crime

Lawyer Unavailable, Judge Vacates Trial Dates For Pastor Facing Sex Offence Charges

Justice Goundar then questioned Tulavu whether he had paid any fee and Tulavu said he had paid his lawyer $5650, but did not get a receipt of the same.
12 Sep 2019 15:55
Lawyer Unavailable, Judge Vacates Trial Dates For Pastor Facing Sex Offence Charges
Waisake Tulavu outside the court house in Suva on September 10, 2019. Photo: Ashna Kumar

The unavailability of a lawyer has caused the High Court in Suva to vacate the trial dates for a Nasinu pastor facing sex offence charges.

This is after Justice Daniel Goundar questioned the accused, Waisake Tulavu, on the whereabouts of his lawyer.

Tulavu told the court that his lawyer was no longer practising because his lawyer’s licence had expired.

Justice Goundar asked the accused when he was advised about this development and he (Tulavu) said it was when he was appearing for his bail application matter.

Justice Goundar questioned Tulavu what he was going to do because the trial dates were near.

Tulavu told the court that he would represent himself in the case.

Justice Goundar then questioned Tulavu whether he had paid any fee and Tulavu said he had paid his lawyer $5650, but did not get a receipt of the same.

Tulavu also told the court that he did not lodge a complaint with the Chief Registrar’s office.

Justice Goundar said to the accused that his trial was to commence on October 21 and whether he was aware of it, to which Tulavu responded “no”.

Tulavu also told the court that he did not get his disclosures from the counsel and sought time to prepare himself for trial.

Justice Goundar then questioned Tulavu whether he would like to engage the Legal Aid Commission to represent him. However, Tulavu told the court that he would think about it.

Justice Goundar said he was concerned whether the accused could represent himself competently because there were several complainants in the case.

Tulavu told the court that he wanted to be given a week to think and advise the court on whether he would engage a counsel.

Justice Goundar said he could not make a decision for the accused.

“My responsibility is to make sure the trial is fair and I am not sure whether you (Tulavu) have the ability to represent yourself,” the judge said.

“There is a high possibility of the trial not proceeding on October 21.

“I am going to vacate the trial because I don’t think the accused (Tulavu) would be ready for trial in October.”

He vacated the trial dates set to commence on October 21.

State prosecutor from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Lavenia Bogitini told the court that she had anticipated the issue of legal representation would be raised and had prepared a new set of disclosures for the accused.

Justice Goundar then told Tulavu if he wanted to get the amount he had paid to the lawyer, he could lodge a complaint with the Chief Registrar’s Office.

Tulavu was remanded in custody and the matter was adjourned for mention to check on the legal counsel for the accused on October 25.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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