‘I heard Soko screaming in pain’

A MEMBER of the Police Strike Back Team in Suva says he heard Vilikesa Soko screaming out in pain when he was allegedly kicked and punched by members of the Criminal Investigations Department.

Special Constable Apete Naikolo said he could not stand what was being done to Mr Soko and robbery suspect Senijieli Boila when they were allegedly sexually assaulted and raped in a hillside at Yalavou near Malevu, Sigatoka, on August 15, 2014.

He made the comments during the trial of police officers Manasa Talala, Seruvi Caqusau, Kelevi Sewatu, Penaia Drauna, Filise Vere, Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu, Senitiki Natakasavu and soldier Pita Matairavula. The nine are charged with the sexual assault and rape of Mr Soko, who died in hospital, and Mr Boila.

Mr Naikolo said he travelled from Suva to the site of the alleged incident with three of the accused.

He said when they arrived at the area where the suspects were taken, his team leader Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu and Pita Matairavula boarded the police truck which Mr Soko was travelling in.

Mr Naikolo said he saw the three men “kick and punch” the deceased and heard Mr Soko shout “in pain”.

The special constable said the second victim who he did not know was injured.

He said the man was outside the truck, sitting on the ground, handcuffed and had visible injuries on his face.

Mr Naikolo said he saw two officers grind chillies into a Coca-Cola bottle and using hand gloves they rubbed the crushed spices onto the two victims private parts.

He said he waited by his vehicle with another police officer while the nine suspects allegedly assaulted Mr Soko and Boila.

Mr Naikolo said a few days later he was contacted by one of the members of the strike back team — Mr Vereivalu — to give an account of what transpired during the arrest of the two suspects and he was also asked not to include details of the alleged assault.

He said his second statement to police given a few days later was a lie.

According to the state witness, the fabricated statement given on August 21, 2014, by Mr Naikolo said that his team led by Mr Vereivalu, Mr Davonu and Mr Matairavula were not part of the group of officers that had allegedly assaulted and raped the two robbery suspects.

He said his statement given on December 9, 2014, contained a true account of what happened at the Yalavou hillside.

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