New trial for smuggling case

Update: 11:22AM THE Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) will recall all 19 State witnesses that testified for the State’s case on charges of smuggling of immigrants when they closed their case on November 13 in 2009.

This after Suva Resident Magistrate Shageeth Somaratne ordered a trial de novo (new trial) of eight counts of smuggling of immigrants contrary to section 235 of the Immigration Act 2003 against Sridhar Nimmagadda and Surendra Mennon.

In a ruling delivered on October 11, 2016, Magistrate Somaratne allowed the application made by the defence and granted a trial de novo for the case for Nimmagadda and Mennon.

The accused persons were represented by Simione Valenitabua of Toganivalu and Valenitabua Lawyers in Suva.

The trial was part-heard up to the time Magistrate Eparama Rokoika who was in carriage of the matter retired from the bench.

Mr Valenitabua made the application for retrial pursuant to section 139 of the Criminal Procedure Decree, which guarantees the accused persons the right to demand that witnesses or any of them be re-summoned and reheard.

It is understood the third accused, Rohit Trivedi, was given his right to request recall of witnesses against him also.

“Even though they have closed their case before me, previously they have not made an application to resummon the witnesses and the objection taken by the State about functus would not apply. Further, most importantly I have not explained this right to (Nimmagadda and Mennon) as stipulated in section 139(2) of the Decree which the court is bound to do so,” Magistrate Somaratne said.  

The ODPP was then ordered to prepare its witnesses for trial scheduled for December 6-7 later this year.

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