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Fiji Time: 10:49 AM on Friday 18 April

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Accused denies recruitment

Mere Naleba
Thursday, December 06, 2012

THE first accused person in the human trafficking case testified in the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Phanat Laojindamanee was cross-examined by all four lawyers representing him and his three accomplices, and also the State counsel Seini Puamau.

Appearing before Justice Paul Madigan, Mr Laojindamanee was cross-examined on what transpired between him, the three Thailand women and the second accused, Lum Bing, when they met in Bangkok, Hong Kong and upon arriving in Fiji.

Mr Laojindamanee told the court he was given $US900 ($F1585) by a man named Allan who was introduced to him by Mr Bing and was told to hand over the money to the women.

Mr Laojindamanee said he didn't know what the money was for and only did as he was instructed. He said he gave the money to one of the three women.

He said after they arrived in Fiji, the group travelled to Suva in a van and stayed at the Holiday Inn before visiting the Oceans Palace Restaurant, a pink building believed to be a massage parlour. They were later transferred to the Peninsula Hotel.

The court heard that during one of the meetings between the women, Lum Bing, the third accused Zhang Yong and fourth accused Jason Zong, Mr Laojindamanee said he could tell the women were upset about something because they were speaking loudly.

Ms Puamau asked Mr Laojindamanee if he knew what the conversation was about. He replied he could not understand what was being talked about because he did not understand the language they were speaking.

However, he said he knew that the fourth accused, Jason Zong, wanted the ladies to repay him $1900.

"I put it to you that you were recruited in Bangkok to bring the girls to Fiji," Ms Puamau asked, to which Mr Laojindamanee replied, "No." The trial continues today before Justice Madigan.