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Fiji Time: 11:03 PM on Thursday 24 April

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Traffickers await fate

Nanise Loanakadavu
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

THE fate of the four Asian charged with aggravated trafficking in person, alternative counts of trafficking in person and sexual servitude will be known this Friday.

Phanat Laojindamanee, Lum Bing, Zhang Yong and Jason Zong are being remanded awaiting sentencing later this week.

All of the accused were found guilty of the charges.

Laojindamanee and Bing were charged with one count of aggravated trafficking in person and an alternative count of trafficking in person, Yong faced two counts of domestic trafficking in person while Zong was charged with two counts of sexual servitude.

In mitigation, Aseri Vakaloloma made a written submission questioning the court why his client Laojindamanee's unanimous not-guilty verdict by the three assessors was overruled by the presiding judge, Justice Paul Madigan.

Additionally, he questioned the logic behind his client's conviction on an offence he was not charged with.

The assessors had found Laojinadamanee not guilty on one count of aggravated trafficking in person.

However, in his judgement Justice Madigan found Laojindamanee guilty on the lesser alternative count of trafficking in person.

The high court judge said Mr Vakaloloma failed to understand the law as his client was convicted of an alternative charge.

Sireli Fa, who represented Bing, told the court that his client was married with two children.

He said Bing's intentions were clear because he did not know the complainant and asked the court for a minimal sentence of zero to two years

Mitigating for the third accused, Akuila Naco said his client Yong was married with two daughters and was a loyal citizen of Fiji for the past 15 years.

He said Yong was remorseful, had promised not to appear in court again and asking the court for a second chance.

Mr Naco asked for four to five years imprisonment for Yong.

Gavin O'Driscoll, representing Zong made submissions for a two-year jail term for his client and cited the letter's two-month stint in remand.

Justice Madigan ruled that he would sentence the four accused on Friday.