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$31m Cocaine Trial Begins At High Court

The $31 million cocaine trial involving a Canadian national began at the High Court in Suva yesterday. The accused, Joshua Aziz Rahman appeared before Justice Daniel Goundar for the first day
23 Mar 2021 09:59
$31m Cocaine Trial Begins At High Court
Joshua Aziz Rahman escorted by heavy security of Police Special Response Unit at the High Court in Suva on March 22, 2021. Photo: Ashna Kumar.

The $31 million cocaine trial involving a Canadian national began at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

The accused, Joshua Aziz Rahman appeared before Justice Daniel Goundar for the first day of his trial.

Rahman is facing one count of unlawful possession of illicit drugs.

It is alleged that Rahman with another between January 23, 2019 and February 14, 2019 at Caubati in Suva, without lawful authority, was found in possession of 39.5 kilograms of illicit drugs, namely cocaine.

The raid was conducted at the accused person’s home in Caubati on February 14, 2019, where the discovery of 39 bars of white powder was discovered and later tested positive to be cocaine worth more than $31 million.

The trial commenced yesterday with a heavy security team on surveillance by the Police Special Response Unit both inside and outside the courthouse.

Representation:

Rahman is represented by counsel Devanesh Sharma and Sharoneel Deo from R Patel Lawyers and Ashneil Nadan from Neel Shivam Lawyers.

The State is presented by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Dr Andrew Jack, lawyers Shelyn Kiran and Monisha Naidu from the Office of the DPP.

Prosecution’s case:

Witness Poseci Bune Rawaqa who was a security officer based at Rahman’s residence in Caubati took the stand yesterday.

He told the court that in January 2019, he was employed by a security company and was assigned to Rahman’s residence as the security officer working from 6pm to 6am.

He testified that his supervisor took him to the residence and introduced him to Joshua Rahman’s father, Tallat Rahman where Tallat stated that he was a businessman working with his son and was from a military background.

He also testified that Tallat has asked him to start shift from 7pm instead of 6pm for personal reasons and that a person named Jitendra used to go to Tallat’s house every afternoon and later some women used to come too.

Mr Rawaqa also testified that on February 2, 2019, before Tallat left for Nadi to fly out for a business meeting in New Zealand, he called Mr Rawaqa and asked to look after Joshua as he was new.

He added that he worked as the security officer at the residence until the Police told him to move away on February 27.

Prosecution’s witness who resided at the house behind Tallat Rahman’s and worked in the house for a period of two weeks, Alanieta Masitabua testified that after the father and son moved in the house in November 2017, there was a delivery of a container containing vase at the residence.

She further added that while working at the house, she knew that the master bedroom belonged to Tallat while the other room on the left of it belonged to Joshua.

Prosecution witness, Alfred Rounds, who looked after the house of Tallat Rahman on instructions of the landlord, told the court that Joshua was used to travel to Canada to study.

He testified that he had seen Tallat’s friend named Jitend Patel used to visit Tallat and party at the house.

He further testified that between the period of February 11 and February 18 in 2019, he had seen Joshua at the house while Tallat had gone out for a business trip to New Zealand.

Police Detective Sergeant Viliame Naupoto who photographed the master bedroom of Tallat Rahman testified that on February 14, 2019, he was instructed by Sergeant Tawake to photograph the crime scene of a raid in Caubati.

He added that at 8pm he arrived at the residence and photographed it from external and internal and that he also photographed the 39 bars found in the master bedroom.

He testified that he was informed to take photographs of the crime scene after the raid and that he was not part of the initial team that went to raid.

Detective Sergeant Naupoto told the court that he did not photograph any other rooms except for the master bedroom and did everything that he was instructed to do by the Investigating Officer at the scene.

He added that he did not recall photographing any handwritten notes and everything photographed by him was in the photographic booklet exhibited in court.

Inspector of the Transnational Crime Unit based at the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, Sekove Vuniwaqa told the court that after receiving information from the Australian Federal Police, he was on surveillance for two drug-related persons of interest traveling from Sydney to Nadi.

He testified that his team and he were on surveillance and witnessed that the two persons of interest travelled to a Fantasy Island home from the airport and later went to a parking lot in Denarau where they changed their vehicle.

He testified that they monitored the movements of the persons of interest and witnessed them getting into a rental vehicle at the parking lot after which they travelled to Suva.

He added that upon reaching Maui Bay, they saw a third person in the vehicle.

The trial continues before Justice Goundar today.

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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