Crime & Court

Magistrate To Deliver Ruling On Mara No Case To Answer

Defence lawyers, Devanesh Sharma and Sharoneel Deo, from R Patel Lawyers filed the application at the Magistrates Court in Suva yesterday.
29 Oct 2020 07:51
Magistrate To Deliver Ruling On Mara No Case To Answer
Solo Naivakarurubalavu Mara outside the Magistrates Court in Suva. Photo: Ashna Kumar

Chief Magistrate, Usaia Ratuvili, will deliver his ruling on the no case to answer application filed in the case of Solo Naivakarurubalavu Mara.

Defence lawyers, Devanesh Sharma and Sharoneel Deo, from R Patel Lawyers filed the application at the Magistrates Court in Suva yesterday.

The former Fijian Ambassador to the United States of America and diplomat, is facing a charge of disobedience of a lawful order where he is alleged to have disobeyed a lawful order of a search warrant issued by the Court by refusing to comply with the warrant on January 24, 2020.

Mara is also facing a charge of giving false or misleading information where Mara is alleged to have given information to a Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) investigator namely Aporosa Vuinakelo, knowing the said information was false.

Defence application and argument:

Mr Sharma argued that the search, seizure of items, questioning, arrest and detainment of Mara was illegal because there was no instructions from the Magistrate to conduct a search at Mara’s residence on the night of January 24.

He told the court that the offences Mara was charged, were under the Crimes Act which stated that the execution of a search warrant was between sunrise and sunset.

Mr Sharma also argued that the warrant was limited to the search and seizure of items. It did not authorise the investigators to ask questions to his client.

He told the court that the search warrant could not be used as an authority to question Mara about the password of his personal gmail account.

He also highlighted that all three FICAC witnesses testified and gave evidence that Mara had complied with the search warrant. There was no force used by the investigators to search the premises.

He told the court that FICAC must respect a person’s refusal using his constitutional rights under the Fijian Constitution to remain silent.

He also told the court that FICAC’s witness had testified that Mara had written the password in the witness’s diary, however, there was no evidence presented in court in respect of that testimony.

He submitted that the court should not condone an illegal search, seizure, questioning, arrest and remand of Mara on the night of January 24 which was not authorised.

Prosecution’s response and submission:

FICAC counsel, Sam Savumiramira, submitted that the FICAC Act enabled the investigators to perform their duties as instructed.

He argued that the defence was challenging various rights including the right to remain silent.

Mr Savumiramira argued that the right to remain silent was given to an accused who was charged and to be produced in court.

He argued that the search warrant did not prohibit the investigators from questioning Mara.

He argued that forgery was not conducted by using a pen and paper but using electronic devices which the investigators had seized from Mara’s residence and asked him for the password of his gmail account including passwords of the electronic devices.

He also told the court that Mara had called someone, however, there was no evidence that Mara had called his lawyer.

Mr Savumiramira told the court that there was admissible evidence that could lead to conviction in this case.

He rejected all allegations made by Mr Sharma against the Prosecution’s case.

Mara’s bail has been extended while the matter is adjourned for ruling next month.

Edited by Selita Bolanavanua

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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