FORMER military officer Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara and Estonian national Risto Harmat met a month before the alleged escape to Tonga, the court heard yesterday.
Criminal Investigations Department officer Vilitati Bari read out Mr Harmat's caution interview in the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday.
The court heard Mr Harmat was introduced to Ratu Tevita (Roko Ului) through a niece, Adi Koila Ganilau.
Adi Koila was a friend of Mr Harmat's girlfriend, Cina Munch.
The court heard the accused lived in Tonga from 1995 to 2002 and had a son from a Tongan woman.
Mr Harmat has pleaded not guilty to assisting Ratu Tevita (Roko Ului) escape to Tonga on May 9, last year.
Mr Bari said Mr Harmat and Roko Ului had gone out fishing in the Beqa Passage, three weeks prior to the Kadavu trip. The court heard Adi Koila arranged the fishing trip to Kadavu.
Roko Ului had allegedly told Mr Harmat he would take three or four friends on the fishing trip but he went alone on May 8, 2011.
The court heard Roko Ului arrived with a knapsack and a small carry bag and paid Mr Harmat $300. They set out for Kadavu where they fished off Nabukelevu-i-ra.
At 6pm that evening, they called Adi Koila's ex-husband, Tim McBride, a surf instructor at Nagigia Resort.
In his interview, Mr Harmat said Mr McBride sent out a fibreglass boat to pick them up from his boat. The court heard the three men shared dinner and a few beers that night.
Mr Harmat's interview said they were supposed to leave for Suva earlier in the day but that it did not eventuate because of the bad weather.
The court heard that Roko Ului asked Mr Harmat to drop him at a sandy beach along the coast, where the lighthouse was located, because some people would meet him there.
Mr Harmat denied seeing a Tongan vessel in Kadavu that day. The court heard that after dropping Roko Ului, Mr Harmat returned to Pacific Harbour.