Suspects identified

THREE police officers from Suva, who were not identified but referred to as ‘F’, ‘G’, and ‘H’, were the ones physically assaulting robbery suspects Senijieli Boila and the late Vilikesa Soko, details of a caution interview revealed.

The caution interview was for Lautoka policeman Penaia Drauna, which was read out in the High Court in Lautoka yesterday. Mr Drauna is one of nine men — eight police officers and a soldier — who are standing trial for the assault and rape of Boila and Mr Soko after they were arrested on August 15, 2014.

Mr Drauna said he was not part of the group that assaulted the suspects.

Read by investigating officer detective Sergeant Tomasi Tukana, the statement said while at a hillside in Yalavou near Malevu Village, Mr Drauna saw three officers assaulting the victims while interrogating them.

He said the three men — F, G, and H — were “going back and forth” between Mr Soko and Boila, repeatedly kicking and punching while asking them if they knew anything about “Maqbool”.

He said they referred to Boila as “Buster”. “The one they called Buster was lying on the ground,” Mr Drauna said in the caution interview. Mr Drauna said he did not assault the suspects.

He said he went to look at Mr Soko.

“I turned his face because he was facing down,” Mr Drauna said.

“I was trying to identify him. I didn’t assault him.

“I went to Mr Soko and tried to stop them from punching him.”

During cross examination defence lawyer Iqbal Khan questioned the detective as to why Mr Drauna’s caution interview was carried out more than three months after the incident occurred.

Sgt Tukana said he did not have a reason and that he was only following instructions from his supervisor.

Mr Khan questioned Sgt Tukana over a missing diary used during the investigation in 2014.

The investigating officer said he had yet to find the notebook he used.

He added there was a typing error in the caution interview, which stated that Mr Drauna had objected to the interview being recorded on a laptop.

Police officers Manasa Talala, Seruvi Caqusau, Kelevi Sewatu, Drauna, Filise Vere, Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu, Senitiki Natakasavu and soldier Pita Matairavula are charged with the sexual assault and rape of Mr Soko, who died in hospital, and Boila.

The trial resumes on October 25.

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