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Court acquits 4 of charges

Shalveen Chand
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

FOUR men charged with gang-raping a woman four years ago were acquitted by the High Court in Suva last week.

Justice Janaka Bandara overturned the unanimous guilty opinion of the assessors and acquitted Vilikesa Ramaqa, Niko Qaqara, Moritikei Nayavagaki and Moritikei Naicobocobo. The first two accused were charged with rape while the third and fourth were charged with aiding and abetting rape.

It was alleged the third accused Mr Nayavagaki chatted up the complainant for sex.

She agreed but didn't know three others were waiting for her.

Justice Bandara said in his ruling the court concluded that the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the sexual intercourse of the first and the second accused with the complainant took place without her consent.

"The prosecution evidence itself creates a reasonable doubt over the issue of 'consent' of the complainant to have sexual intercourse with the first and second accused," he said.

"This court declines to accept the narration of the complainant that she did not consent to have sexual intercourse with the two accused as it seriously questions her credibility."

Justice Bandara said the contradictions in the complainant's statements went to the root of the prosecution case.

"Things get worse when taking her subsequent conduct into consideration.

"She had gone home after all these forceful sexual encounters, had a bath, dinner and then to the bed. According to prosecution witness Ms Laisa, the complainant did like what took place on the previous night. "

It is in this context, one has to assess her behaviour during the alleged 'forceful sexual activities', not raising alarms and no efforts to run."

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