Local news in brief
Juvenile in court
A JUVENILE charged with defilement and murder of a 13-year-old girl of Batinikama in Labasa is expected to appear in Labasa High Court today. A plea is also expected to be put to the boy when the case proceeds in the High Court. The juvenile had initially appeared in the Labasa court on Tuesday when Magistrate Ropate Cabelawa transferred the case to the High Court.
New LTA office
INFORMATION on transportation and vehicle inspection will be more accessible to the people of Bua with the opening of the Land Transport Authority's new office in Nabouwalu. The opening is expected to be carried out by the Minister for Transport and Works Colonel Timoci Natuva today. The new office is expected to help boost the authority's services in the Northern Division.
THE POLICE are investigating an incident in which some Labasa students who arrived late for classes were punished on the roadside by a traffic officer. Assistant police spokesman Atunaisa Sokomuri said the officer will be disciplined if the incident is proven to be true. He thanked the student's parents for raising the matter. In an earlier response Education Minister Filipe Bole described the incident as ridiculous.
THE NLTB says native land rents whose leases were being administered by the board have been distributed under the new distribution policy since Thursday January 27. NLTB head Alipate Qetaki said the distribution role of the NLTB ends when the money is deposited to each landowning unit's bank accounts. "It is their responsibility to update their VKB records, appoint trustees and open their accounts before they can expect to have their lease money paid," he said.
TOURISM Fiji hopes to lure more movie makers into the country. CEO Josefa Tuamoto said apart from the three movies that would be shot here in March another movie had been lined up to promote Fiji's tourist attractions to Bollywood film lovers. Mr Tuamoto said they were working very closely to portray Fiji to the 'Bollyworld'. "We are working with the authorities to have a movie shot in Fiji which is critical in exposing the destination in India," he said.
A CIVIL servant fined $1500 for five abuse of office charges has appealed against his sentence. Noa Vakacegu was fined by the Labasa Magistrates Court. Vakacegu had admitted five counts of abuse of office for having approved a request from Sam Civil Services, a logging company, to delay payment of outstanding royalties to mataqali Tibitibi, mataqali Vitina and the Government. FICAC made oral submissions. The case resumes on February 11.
Grounds for bail
ENGAGING a private counsel is not grounds for bail, a man was told by the High Court in Suva yesterday. Tomasi Silidamu told the court he wanted a private lawyer and for that he would need to be given bail. The court told him if he wanted bail he must make an application on new grounds. He was given more than a month to contact a lawyer from remand but was warned not to use this as an excuse to delay proceedings.
A MAN facing robbery and attempted rape charges told the court he was pleading guilty to the robbery charges. Vereniki Batikalou has opted to represent himself in the matter. The State prosecution informed the court they would be amending the information provided with the charges and would require some time to do this. The case will be called today for the prosecution to consider information.
GET proof that you will have work waiting if bail is granted, the High Court in Suva told a man hoping to get bail. Inoke Livanisiga was told to gather evidence and come back to court if he was going to maintain this ground for bail. Livanisiga is alleged to have been part of a gang robbery at the Dee Cees garage in Suva last year. The case will be called in March. In the meantime the accused has to provide evidence that he has employment.
PROSECUTION and defence counsels were told to avoid delays and work together so an accused with 12 files can have all his cases heard in May. Ropate Naisua has been told the month of May has been set aside by the court so all his cases could be heard. The court said Naisua has been in remand for almost a year and it would be unfair for him to stay longer with cases pending. His case will be called for mention in two weeks.
A TRIAL voire dire to determine whether three suspects in a murder trial were beaten and forced to confess is still underway in the High Court in Suva. Police officers are still giving evidence while medical authorities who examined the three suspects will also have to give evidence so the court can decide if the confessions can be submitted as evidence. Bharat Lal, Jayant Lal and Moreen Lata are charged with one count of murder.
A MISSING accused in a 2004 case still pending before the courts had the court questioning the police prosecution if bench warrants issued for the accused were being executed. Magistrate Alofa Serevatu told police prosecution the courts had a duty to deliver justice and not see cases being dragged. She said when police officers failed to do their job, it contributed to the delays. She made the comments when informed that a bench warrant was still not executed.