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Lawyer withdraws from murder case

Ropate Valemei
Thursday, February 14, 2013

TWO of the six Asian nationals implicated in the murder of a local businessman were told by the High Court in Suva to look for a lawyer before the trial begins in three months time.

This after their lawyer Aseri Vakaloloma applied to withdraw from representing them because he was not being paid.

Mr Vakaloloma said it was not in his interest to represent them without being paid.

Appearing before Justice Salesi Temo, Yang Xiu Qi and Hu Jian Zhan said through their interpreter they had no money left in Fiji to pay Mr Vakaloloma.

Mr Qi, Mr Zhan, Bill Hao, Liu Chuan Wei, Veng Seong Tam and Dai Jian each face a count of murder.

They told the court that they had to contact their families in China to get money to pay their lawyer.

They also submitted that they could loan money from people they know in Fiji to facilitate the payment.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) lawyer Mosese Korovou did not object to Mr Vakaloloma's application.

Justice Temo declined Mr Vakaloloma's request saying it was too late for him to withdraw because they had three months left for trial.

"Any counsel should be walking into the case with a challenge he or she might not get paid. If you had withdrawn after three months when the case was opened it would have been granted," Justice Temo said.

He said Mr Vakaloloma's withdrawal would jeopardise the trial.

Justice Temo told the two accused to contact their families in China for financial assistance or apply for Legal Aid Commission assistance.

The men are charged with the murder of Suva businessman Robert Fong.

Fong was murdered in the early hours of April 8 last year at a service station along Suva's Victoria Parade.

The case has been adjourned to February 28 for a pre-trial conference.





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