THE courts will punish offenders against tourists with very severe sentences and the message to would-be offenders is that there is zero tolerance for such crimes.
Judge Justice Paul Madigan of the High Court in Suva made the comments while sentencing Pauliasi Lasa to 15 years imprisonment for raping a tourist last year.
Justice Madigan said there could be no greater aggravation to these crimes than the fact that the victims were tourists to this country.
He told Lasa that tourists on holiday in a country that was touted world-wide as the ultimate friendly experience should have the reasonable expectation of safety within their hotel or guesthouse rooms.
Lasa was convicted on one count each of aggravated robbery, grievous harm and rape.
The incident took place on February 6, 2012 in Beqa when a young Australian married couple came to Fiji for a holiday.
The court heard that Lasa forced his way into their room through the sliding glass door — armed with a cane knife — and demanded money.
Lasa told the victim's husband he was going to take his wife away and the husband pulled his wife's hand when Lasa severed his left hand at the wrist with the knife. He then pulled the victim outside and raped her.
Lasa, 41, was educated in Australia and in Fiji and was resident in Australia before being brought back to be tried for this case.
Justice Madigan said the victims were in an environment they were not familiar with and away from their usual support groups.
He said the husband claimed that with the loss of his hand he faced an uncertain employment future and driving a vehicle and physical interaction with his children was also problematic.
Lasa was jailed with a non-parole period of 13 years.