High Seas Murder Accused Told to Engage Lawyer

The accused, Tevita Qaqa Kapawale, is charged with the murder of five people on Fishing Vessel (FV) Tiro II in Fiji Waters on May 18, 2021.
22 Jul 2022 16:00
High Seas Murder Accused Told to Engage Lawyer
High Seas murder accused, Tevita Kapawale, outside the High Court in Suva on July 20, 2022. Photo: Ashna Kumar

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That is what High Court Judge, Justice Daniel Goundar, ordered the high seas murder accused, to do in order for the court to move forward with his case.

The accused, Tevita Qaqa Kapawale, is charged with the murder of five people on Fishing Vessel (FV) Tiro II in Fiji Waters on May 18, 2021.

He faces five counts of allegedly murdering, Qiritivabea Cagilabakomeli, aged 28, Benjamin Semuel Sukera, aged 44, Alfat Kodri, aged 37, Eme Warma, aged 47, and Samuela Sukera, aged 28.


He is also charged with one count of the attempted murder of Kaminieli Tucama, aged 47, and one count of criminal intimidation for allegedly intimidating Mitieli Cama, aged 49.

Kapawale told the court on Wednesday that he was yet to engage counsel and would represent himself until he was granted bail to find a lawyer.

Justice Goundar asked him who was making arrangements for his lawyer on his behalf. Kapawale said no one.

Justice Goundar called Kapawale’s father Semiti Rigamoto and questioned him on the arrangements for Kapawale’s legal representation.

Mr Rigamoto said he tried to contact someone at the Legal Aid Commission but had not received a response.

Justice Goundar then asked him whether he could afford a private lawyer.

Mr Rigamoto said he had a source of income, but it was not enough.


Justice Goundar said the court would give him a form to apply for Legal Aid assistance, depending on whether Kapawale would sign it.

Justice Goundar then asked whether Kapawale had a family.

Mr Rigamoto said Kapawale was married with three children and that he was supporting them.

Justice Goundar asked Mr Rigamoto whether his son had a history of mental health issues.

Mr Rigamoto said no and added that Kapawale completed Form Six, was a farmer and did casual jobs.


Justice Goundar remanded Kapawale in custody and would not hear his bail application because the Court wanted him to secure legal representation.

State prosecutor from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Eoghn Samisoni, said the additional disclosures were being compiled and would be ready by the next mention date.

Justice Goundar asked Mr Samisoni to look into whether Kapawale’s application for Legal Aid assistance was approved and served the disclosures.

The matter was adjourned to August 12 for mention to check on legal representation and the accused’s bail application.



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