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5-year wait for justice

Repeka Nasiko
Wednesday, March 05, 2014

IT HAS been an emotional five-year journey for the daughters of 59-year-old Vinod Dutt Sharma of Yalalevu, Ba, who was brutally murdered in his home in September, 2009.

The two sisters had to come face to face with their father's killers every year as court proceedings forced them to put their lives on hold until their search for justice was completed.

That search was finally over yesterday when the High Court in Lautoka sentenced Joji Rokete, Josua Waka and Jonetani Rokoua to life imprisonment for the murder of the former senior bank officer.

As the judgment of the three accused was read out, Mr Sharma's elder daughter Ranjani Reddy said she could not hold back her tears as some of the burden of the last five years was lifted from her shoulders.

"We've certainly gotten some measure of closure and satisfaction," she said.

"I think I'm happy with the decision as well and that they've gone in for life."

She said during the two week trial, the family found it difficult to seat through the case.

"It was like hell. All we wanted to do was to get justice for our father because how he died was not fair to him nor to the kind of person he was. He was a truly kind and caring man whose death affected us all.

"We literally had to put our lives on hold to travel from New Zealand every year and attend court proceedings because we just wanted to see justice done."

Her brother-in-law, Ashneil Sudhakar said the family was committed to seeing the case to the end.

"We had so many questions that we wanted answered," he said.

"Even now, we're still asking those questions like what drove those men to enter his home and kill him so brutally. We have waited for the last five years to bring justice to our beloved father, father-in-law and grandfather and finally today (yesterday), the Almighty Lord granted us that."

In his ruling, High Court judge Justice Paul Madigan said in the early hours of September 8, 2009, the three men removed burglar bars and louvres from the victim's home. He said Mr Sharma was asleep in the living room and was then tied up and a cloth was applied on his nose and mouth and held there forcibly until he was motionless.

The court sentenced Rokete and Waka to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years while Rokoua got a minimum of 15 years.

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