No civilian witnesses

NO civilian was interviewed during the investigations into the rape and assault of two robbery suspects on August 15, 2014, apart from one of those allegedly abused, Senijieli Boila.

This was revealed by police internal affairs investigator Detective Sergeant Suliano Tevita, as he gave evidence in the trial of eight police officers and a military officer who are charged with the rape and assault of Boila and the late Vilikesa Soko.

He said Boila was the only civilian who was requested to give a statement of his account of what happened on the day the alleged incident took place.

During cross examination yesterday, defence lawyer Iqbal Khan questioned why no other independent civilians were asked to give their statements.

Mr Khan also asked why the investigators did not question the driver of the minibus in which Mr Soko and Boila were travelling in before they were arrested near Tagaqe Village in Sigatoka.

In response, Det Sgt Tevita said they had enough evidence from Boila and the police officers involved in the arrest of the pair.

Mr Khan then asked the detective why there was no identification parade carried out for the witnesses.

The defence lawyer said statements given by some of the witnesses said that between 25 and 30 police officers were at a hillside near Yalavou near Malevu Village where Mr Soko and Boila were allegedly assaulted.

He said the investigators were being selective in their investigations.

Mr Khan put to the witness that the investigators were directed by former chief of investigations and intelligence, ACP Henry Brown, to charge the nine men.

Det Sgt Tevita denied the claims and said Mr Brown was not involved in the investigations and that the evidence they gathered was enough to implicate the accused officers.

He said Boila knew some of the accused and had identified the officers in his statements.

Det Sgt Tevita was the only witness called to the stand yesterday.

On trial are Manasa Talala, Seruvi Caqusau, Kelevi Sewatu, Penaia Drauna, Filise Vere, Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu, Senitiki Natakasavu and soldier Pita Matairavula.

Mr Talala and Mr Vereivalu are also charged with one count each of defeating the course of justice for allegedly instructing three officers to give false statements on August 21.

The trial will resume tomorrow.

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