Crime

‘Sold For Sex’ Trial: Judge Concurs With Assessors, Finds ‘Josie’ Werelagi Guilty

Justice Goundar found Werelagi guilty for all counts of domestic trafficking in children and aggravated sexual servitude as charged.
10 Dec 2019 10:00
‘Sold For Sex’ Trial: Judge Concurs With Assessors, Finds ‘Josie’ Werelagi Guilty
Josevata Werelagi is escorted by a Police officer outside the High Court in Suva on December 9, 2019. Photo: Ashna Kumar

Josevata Werelagi, a man accused of prostituting a minor was found guilty by the High Court in Suva.

The trial judge had concurred with the assessors’ verdict.

Werelagi, 35, also known as Josie, faces three counts of domestic trafficking in children and one count of aggravated sexual servitude.

He appeared before Judge Justice Daniel Goundar yesterday for judgment.

The charges:

It is alleged that between July 18, 2015, and July 22, 2015, in Suva,Werelagi threatened and forced a 15-year-old girl to enter into or remain in sexual servitude.

Also on the said day, in Nausori, he facilitated the transportation of the girl from Nausori town to Rewa Street, and in facilitating the said transport, with intent that the girl will be used to provide sexual services.

The prosecution is represented by Lavenia Bogitini and Shirley Tivao from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions while Werelagi is represented by Talei Kean and Salote Nasedra from the Legal Aid Commission.

Judgment

In his judgment, Justice Goundar said he accepted the evidence of the victim that she was dressed to look older, was trafficked from Nausori to Samabula and was forced to enter into prostitution.

He said the prosecution had proved that the victim entered into the condition to provide sex work.

He added that he believed that the complainant was lured to transport from Nausori to Samabula under the pretext to have a meal.

Justice Goundar said he found that the accused knew that the victim was a child and the prosecution had proved the element beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Goundar found Werelagi guilty for all counts of domestic trafficking in children and aggravated sexual servitude as charged.

The case was adjourned to tomorrow for sentencing hearing.

Werelagi is further remanded in custody.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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