Crime

Nasilasila Case: Mum In Tears As 7s Star Is Convicted

“This is my voice. I am a voice, the voice that was quiet that could not talk because of the media, the voice that had to deal with all your rugby fans and your loved ones because they did not care because they only cared about the voice of the rugby player,” the complainant told the court.
21 Sep 2019 13:06
Nasilasila Case: Mum In Tears As 7s Star Is Convicted
Amenoni Nasilasila outside the High Court in Lautoka on September 20, 2019. Photo: Ashna Kumar

Sevens star Amenoni Nasilasila’s mother was in tears after her son was convicted of a rape charge by the High Court in Lautoka yesterday.

The 27-year-old Nasilasila was charged with rape of a 24-year-old woman at Olosara, Sigatoka, on December 22, 2018.

Nasilasila appeared before Justice Daniel Goundar for his judgment after a three-day trial at the High Court in Lautoka.

On Thursday, the three assessors delivered their unanimous opinion of not guilty for the former national 7s rugby star.

The State prosecution was represented by counsels from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Mehzabeen Khan and Moira Konrote.

Nasilasila was represented by counsels Mark Anthony and Unaisi Baleilevuka.

Nasilasila wore a purple checked shirt with back sulu and sandal. The complainant wore a black knee-length skirt, white top and a blazer and her hair was tied in a bun.

Many attended the case yesterday because they wanted to hear the court’s judgment on the case.

While the courtroom was full to capacity, the complainant was emotional and tearful when Justice Goundar read his judgment.

Nasilasila’s mother was devastated with her son’s conviction and could not hold back her emotions as she held on to him and cried.

Nasilasila sat silently in the box all throughout and appeared tearful at times.

 

Justice Goundar’s judgment:

In his judgment, Justice Goundar said our system of justice prescribed that the assessors’ opinion aided the court to arrive at a verdict. The verdict was solely the call of the trial judge.

He said the trial judge was not obliged to perform to the assessors’ opinions.

“If the judgment of the court does not perform to the assessors’ opinions, then the trial judge is obliged by the law to give the reasons.”

Justice Goundar directed himself in accordance with the summing up.

He said he bore in mind that the prosecution carried the burden of proof to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

He said the accused elected not to give evidence and carried no burden to prove anything.

Justice Goundar said the prosecution was required to establish guilt by proving the following elements of rape beyond a reasonable doubt.

1 – On the alleged date and place, the accused had sexual intercourse with the complainant;

2 – The complainant did not consent to the sexual intercourse; and

3 – The accused knew that the complainant did not consent.

“The first element is not in dispute. The accused admits that he had sexual intercourse with the complainant on December 22, 2018, at Sigatoka.

“The defence’s case is that the complainant did consent to the sexual intercourse and that her account of force used by the accused to obtain her consent is false.

“Apart from the evidence in cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, the defence relied upon their witness, Isake Katonibau, to show that the complainant is not a truthful witness and that her account of force used by the accused to obtain her consent is false.

“Mr Katonibau is a close friend of the accused.

“I accept his evidence that he visited the accused on December 23, 2018, at the Police Station and then met with the complainant at an eatery.

“Mr Katonibau gave the court an impression that his meeting with the complainant was a coincidence when he ended up at the same location as the complainant.

“I do not think that Mr Katonibau’s meeting with the complainant at an eatery was a coincidence.

“His story does not add up when he said the complainant told him she consented to sexual intercourse with the accused and that on her request, he took her back to the Police Station to withdraw her report.

“He remained in the vehicle when she went inside the station and when he learned that the report could not be withdrawn, he did not see it fit to inform the Police what the complainant had allegedly told him about her consenting to sexual intercourse.

“His failure to inform the Police of the conversation he had with the complainant supports her (complainant) account that he was putting pressure on her to withdraw her report,” Justice Goundar said.

He highlighted that the complainant’s evidence was that she had a conversation with Mr Katonibau and that it was Mr Katonibau who tried to convince her to drop the case against the accused.

“Her evidence is that she told Mr Katonibau she was going to go ahead with the case and she told the same to the accused’s mother when she met her at the Police station later that afternoon.

“The complainant was consistent with her account that the accused had sexual intercourse with her using force and without her consent.

“She gave a detailed account of how the accused used forced and had sexual intercourse with her without her consent,” Justice Goundar said.

He said since the accused did not give evidence, there is no evidence from him to contradict the account of the complainant and that this was not a case of his words against her.

“The entire prosecution case rests on the credibility of the complainant and her evidence.

“The complainant was cross-examined on the issue of consent.

“She maintained that she did not consent and that the accused used force to have sexual intercourse.

“The lack of consent was communicated verbally and also by conduct.

“Her evidence is that she told the accused to stop and that she did not want to have sex, that she resisted, but he became more aggressive towards her.

“She said that she was scared of him because she knew he was intoxicated and not listening when she told him to stop.

“She said she did not know what else he could have done to her as he was not listening.

“This account of the complainant that the accused used force and that she did not consent to the sexual intercourse was unshaken by the cross-examination.

“The cross-examination centred mainly on the conduct during the incident and after the incident.

“The complainant admitted that she chose to stay back with the accused on the day of the incident, however, she explained, that she and her family trusted him.

“When asked was she still in love with the accused, the complainant rejected the proposition and said that she still loved him because of the friendship.

“She rejected the proposition that she cried of rape because she was upset with the accused leaving her in the bathroom after sexual intercourse without giving a towel,” Justice Goundar said.

He highlighted that the evidence was the answer of the complainant and not the proposition put in a question to the witness.

Justice Goundar said the complainant agreed that she did not run outside to raise alarm, however, she explained that she thought she will be safe by locking herself in the bathroom.

“The degree of her resistance during the incident was on the basis that she was in a state of fear because she knew the accused was intoxicated and not listening.

“Her decision to run into the bathroom and not outside to raise alarm is also reasonable in the circumstances.

“She had to make impulsive decisions without much thought.

“It would be unreasonable to expect her to react in stereotype reactions when sexually assaulted.

“The complainant complained to her boyfriend, Mitieli Mataibau, that the accused had raped her shortly after the incident.

“Mr Mataibau’s evidence is that when the complaint was made, the complainant was distressed.

“The recent complaint evidence adds consistency to the complainant’s conduct.

“The complainant struck me as an honest and reliable witness.

“I believe her account that the accused used force and that she did not consent to sexual intercourse.

“I accept that she said stop or no, but the accused carried on to have sexual intercourse knowing she did not consent and that he knew that the complainant did not consent.

“The prosecution has satisfied the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The accused is guilty of rape as charged and convicted,” Justice Goundar said.

The matter was then adjourned for both parties to file their respective submissions in the case.

 

Victim’s Impact Report

At 11 am, the court resumed for the State to file and submit the victim’s impact report.

However, Ms Khan told the court that the complainant wished to read out her report.

The complainant was once again told to take an oath and read her victim impact report.

She read out her victim’s impact report to the court which said: “Lack of sleep, no appetite, feeling disoriented, lost and confused, dirty and ashamed, felt blamed, attacked by the media, withdrawal from my family and friends, isolated myself, mood swings, affected my focus on work, memory loss, overwhelmed with others reaching out to me, fear of others, anxiety, distance myself from others, did not trust anybody, wanted to be alone, my relationship with family and friends affected.

“During the examination at the hospital, felt discomfort, pain, uncomfortable, having issues of emotions.

“After the incident, I could not go back to work for about three months. I was still recovering from the shock that developed from the incident,” the complainant told the court.

She turned to Nasilasila, faced him and took the opportunity to say:

“Amenoni Nasilasila, you are one person that I had trusted.

“What you have done to me has affected me physically and mentally.

“I am standing here in front of you because I want you to know the person I truly am.

“The world has known you as a rugby player and now I want to be able to tell the world who I am.

“I am a woman, a daughter, a cousin, a granddaughter to my loved ones.

“I have been attacked by your loved ones, but most of all, I have been attacked by your fans.

“I have been attacked by the media.

“I also have a voice and I felt so much pain within myself seeing my family going through this.

“But you Amenoni Nasilasila, you are a rugby player.

“I have been able to stay strong in taking the attack from your fans.

“I wanted to be a voice for myself.

“What you have done to me, I cannot erase the incident that has happened to me.

“This is something I have to remember for the rest of my life.

“As much as you are respected as a rugby player, I would like to be respected as well.

“This is my voice. I am a voice, the voice that was quiet that could not talk because of the media, the voice that had to deal with all your rugby fans and your loved ones because they did not care because they only cared about the voice of the rugby player,” the complainant told the court.

 

Bail

Defence lawyer Ms Baleilevuka told the court that Nasilasila had two suitable sureties present in court to sign the bail form and also highlighted that he had been attending his court dates and had not breached his conditions.

She also told the court that there was a stop departure order on the accused and there were no chances of him not appearing on his court dates.

Prosecutor Ms Khan told the court that the State was objecting to his bail because Nasilasila was now convicted for a serious offence of rape.

Justice Goundar said Nasilasila stood convicted for one of the most serious offences of rape and rejected the bail application made by the defence.

Justice Goundar remanded Nasilasila in custody and adjourned the matter for a sentencing hearing on October 21.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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