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A murder that shocked the nation

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

IT was a murder that shocked the nation nearly

three decades ago.

A foreigner operating a hotel business in the country was murdered.

He was killed in his hotel room and his body wrapped in a bed sheet and dumped near a yacht club at night.

The businessman's body was discovered after some time by a security guard and a major police investigation was carried out.

During the course of investigations, a police officer who was part of the investigating team also sought the help of a Catholic priest after he became restless.

Whatever he was told by the priest about the murder is said to have turned into reality within the time frame given to him.

Today, The Fiji Times brings you an exclusive interview with the former police officer and now a lawyer, who helped solve the murder of Bob Amos in 1985.

He talks about his experience from the time the businessman's body was discovered outside the yacht club.

NAIPOTE Vere was a police inspector when he and some of his colleagues were summoned for a meeting early one morning.

It was early June, 1985 and the person briefing them was the then Director of Criminal Investigations Department Jimi Koroi.

The police officers were told about the murder of Kings Hotel owner Bob Amos, 65, whose body was found in his van near the Royal Suva Yacht Club, outside Suva City.

Separate teams were appointed to carry out the investigations, an inspector heading each team with three subordinate officers. Mr Vere said his team was appointed to interview people at the RSYC.

"There was suspicion in the early stages that a huge amount of drug was involved and the deal didn't go well and the victim was killed," he said.

"I also had to visit the crime scene and there were only drops of blood from the victim's hotel room to the bar area and towards the back of the building. There was nothing else found, no clue."

On Friday, June 7, 1985, we reported on the front page that 16 police detectives had begun an intensive investigation into the murder.

It was reported Mr Amos' body was found about 11pm on Wednesday (June 5) in the boot of his van near the yacht club.

Mr Vere said he became restless while inspecting the crime scene at the Kings Hotel in Samabula.

"The spirit of God was telling me to do something and I only realised this later. I told the boys in my team to go back to Central Police Station and wait for me. I didn't tell them where I was going.

"Something was telling me to go and see a Catholic priest some distance away, as I'm also a Catholic. I walked to the St Agnes Parish some distance away and was able to meet Father Lambert.

"The first thing he told me was that he was watching what we police officers had been doing and said it must be very difficult.

"To my surprise, Father Lambert started telling me every thing about the case just like he was an eyewitness to it. He told me about the plan and how Mr Amos' body ended up where it was found.

"As we were finishing our conversation, I asked him if we would be able to arrest the suspects. He told me that the suspects would be arrested in three days."

Mr Vere said during the usual 2pm briefing on the case the same day, he told his senior officer that the case would be solved in three days. He said the other officers did not have any update.

"Some of the police officers looked at me and said I was prophesying. Then, I told them what Father Lambert had told me about the case.

"There were no new developments on the third day and my heart slowly started sinking but I still believed what I was told by my priest.

"At 4pm, the Director CID got a call informing him that Tavua police had received information and rounded up some suspects in the case and were waiting for Suva police.

"The officers in the team were very happy and some of them even embraced me. We drove down to Tavua in two vehicles to interview the suspects and bring them to Suva.

"When we arrived there at about 10pm, I saw that all the suspects were Fijians of Indian descent and I asked them where was the iTaukei man.

"The priest had told me that an iTaukei man with a bit reddish hair was also involved in the murder so that's why I asked for that person."

Mr Vere said when he heard that the iTaukei man was Josua Ralulu, he got worried because he knew it would be hard to "break" him as he was known to police.

He said the iTaukei suspect was shocked to see him after he was arrested by the police and asked him if he was a police officer, to which he replied that he was.

"After talking to him for some time and telling him what the priest had told me, Ralulu admitted the offence. But the Fijians of Indian descent didn't admit anything to police, so we brought all of them to Suva, including Ralulu.

"When we reached Suva, they were left in one room and there was no police officer present there. This was done for them to sought things out among themselves and come out with the truth."

Mr Vere said after some time, his team and another team of police officers were sent to arrest the hotel manager and Mr Amos's wife Prakash Wati Amos.

He said it was later revealed by the suspects that they came to Suva in a private car on the night of the murder (June 5) and waited at the sea wall near Suva Grammar School.

"In fact, on that night a police patrol car saw them there and asked where they were from and what they were doing there.

"They had told police that the oldest person in the group was supposed to get his FNPF money the next morning and they were waiting for someone.

"The police patrol team didn't take the vehicle's registration number. It was only during the police caution interview that they admitted they were waiting for the Kings Hotel bar to close at 9pm.

"It was a well-planned murder. Shortly after the hotel bar closed at 9pm, the suspects went to the hotel and stayed in a room next to Mr Amos'.

"They had even drilled holes in the wooden partition separating the two rooms to check on Mr Amos and they even had a duplicate key to his room.

"When they saw him sleeping, they opened the door to his room, moved in and started punching him as he lay on his wooden bed," said Mr Vere.


The killing and dumping of Mr Amos' body.

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