The unsolved murders of Wailada

ABOUT a decade has passed but there is still no word on who killed them.

It is one of the few unsolved murder cases in the country right now.

But what makes this case different from other known murders is that four people were shot to death.

Apart from there being no clue on the suspect or suspects, no murder weapon was found.

The reason why the four men, including an iTaukei and three Asians were shot to death at point blank range, is also not known.

While many people believe it was the work of an organised Asian crime gang, this has not been confirmed yet as no one has been arrested for the killings.

Two years ago, The Fiji Times took a look back at the murders and also spoke to the families of two victims.

Today, we take a look again at one of the biggest but still unsolved murders in the country.

IT is a case that shocked the nation about a decade ago.

The news that four bodies had been found in a fish factory on August 22, 2003 spread like wildfire.

While people and the police may have expected arrests soon, nothing has eventuated until today.

The shooting deaths of an iTaukei man and three Asians remain a mystery so far.

During a flashback into the murder two years ago, we spoke to the families of two of the victims.

One of those shot to death was a young iTaukei man and another was a Chinese student.

The young Chinese man was the 25th generation in his family.

Considering the one-child policy in China, his death ended his family’s bloodline.

The four men shot to death at point blank range were Rupeni Talakuli of Wailevu in Cakaudrove, Hong Kong nationals Kaa Kee Kueok and Wu Guiuiu, and Jiang Hao Qian of China.

Going down memory lane, it was Friday, August 22, 2003 when police officers arrived at the Live Fish Exports (Fiji) Limited factory in Wailada, Lami.

They had been informed about four dead bodies inside the fish factory, something that workers in the vicinity were unaware of.

It was in the evening on the same day when the four bodies were removed from the scene after forensic examinations.

Police investigators had revealed that the iTaukei watchman was found dead in the processing room, a young Chinese man in an adjacent processing room while two Asian men were found in their bedroom upstairs.

On Sunday, August 24, we reported that the police were investigating a link that a hired assassin killed the four men, who were found in pools of blood at different places.

The then police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, was quoted saying on August 27 that the police had not ruled out the possibility of the murders being linked to Asian mafia or transnational crime.

A Taiwanese man was questioned by the police after the bodies were discovered but there was no evidence to link him to the multiple murders.

Qian’s father Jiang Can Xing told this newspaper that he believed his son knew too much of what was going on behind the scenes at the fish factory where he worked.

Mr Xing said Qian had dropped him and his wife home about 10pm on August 21 and went to the fish factory as an Asian man had been calling him continuously.

“I think my son just knew too much of what was going on at the fish factory and that’s why he was also killed,” he said.

He believes the shooting deaths of his son and the other three men was the work of contracted killers or assassins.

Like Mr Xing and his wife, Talakuli’s family and friends are also waiting for answers on why their loved one was killed with the other three men.

In an earlier interview at Wailevu in Cakaudrove, Talakuli’s father Luke Waidolailagi said his son’s dream was to join the British Army.

“He always talked about it from his young age but I didn’t meet him after he went to Navuso in 1998,” he said.

“I think he started working because he wanted to earn money and fulfil his dream of joining the British Army.”

Mr Waidolailagi said no one in the family knew where Rupeni was working until they learnt about his death.

“Ever since he left for Navuso in Nausori, he did not contact me or anyone else in the family but we know that he lived with some relatives in Suva after that and then moved to his workplace.

“We never knew about his workplace until we heard the news that he was found dead with three Asian men.

“At first, we were a bit confused which Rupeni Talakuli had died because we have two in the family.

“We later got confirmation that it was my son Rupeni and it was shocking for me and the family to learn of how he died, being shot to death.

“I just couldn’t believe that he could have died like that and ever since then I’ve been wondering why he died that way.”

Mr Waidolailagi said he did not go deep into finding out the circumstances surrounding his son’s death because he thought police would solve the case.

He said family members, friends and villagers of Natua and Natuvu, where he now lives, often talked about the shooting deaths in Wailada.

Talakuli’s grandfather, Jone Sogunu said in an earlier interview that he wanted to know what exactly happened to his grandson.

“It’s very painful for me as a grandfather that nothing has been done yet to arrest and charge those who shot my grandson,” he said.

The former Criminal Investigations Department director SSP Vakacegu Toduadua told this newspaper in mid 2012 that the file into the Wailada shootings was still open.

SSP Toduadua had said that the local police was working with INTERPOL to solve the case.

Yesterday, police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the file was still open and there were no clues on the multiple murders.

Insp Sokomuri also said the police was still working with INTERPOL to track down the suspect or suspects in the killings.

Qian’s parents have sold their restaurant in Suva and returned to China like they had told this newspaper earlier because the pain of living without their son in the country he was killed in was too much.

But they are still searching for answers into their son’s death, similarly like Talakuli’s family who are waiting for a breakthrough.

With a lapse of 12 years now into the murders, the killer is still at large and only time will tell whether the case will be solved or not.

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