State witness says 9 accused did not assault him, Soko
State witness Senijeli Boila said yesterday the eight former Police officers and one soldier charged with brutally assaulting him and Vilikesa Soko, did not do it. Boila surprised the court with his evidence when he appeared before Lautoka High Court Judge Justice, Thushara Rajasinghe. Manasa Talala, Seruvi Caqusau, Kelevi Sewatu, Penaia Drauna, Filise Vere, Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu, Senitiki Natakasavu and soldier Pita Matairavula are jointly charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault of Soko, who was in their custody on August 15, 2014. The incident was linked to the death of Soko. Manasa Talala and Viliame Vereivalu are also charged with defeating the case of justice.
Boila told the court the Police officers who had allegedly assaulted him and Soko on August 15, 2014, were Semi Ravuiwasa, Maciu Temo, Apakuki Tuitavua and Usaia Nataraku.
He repeatedly told the court that these were the same officers who had arrested Soko and him in a minibus at Tagaqe village. However, Prosecution lawyer, Lee Burney, read the interview statements of Boila which were recorded on September 22, 2016. The statements revealed that Matairavula was clearly seen by Boila sexually assaulting Soko.
Boila also identified Matairavula in court. In cross examination, Defence lawyer, Iqbal Khan, suggested that Boila’s statements were not written by him and that Boila had no idea Matairavula’s name was written in the statement. Mr Khan suggested that Boila was only given the statement to sign. Boila agreed.
Boila is currently serving 11 years imprisonment for the robbery at City Forex in Nadi. This was the incident that led to their arrest. However, Boila claimed that he had no idea of who Soko was and they were only travelling in the same minivan until they were apprehended by the Police. Another witness, Auka Natuinivalu, a private in the army who drove Matairavula, told the court that when they arrived at the scene, Soko and Boila were already covered in blood.
A driver of the Police vehicle, Usaia Nataraku, who had three statements from Police interviews, told the court that he and other Police officers were told to change their statements following a personal briefing of all Police officers by Divisional Crime Officer Western, Superintendent Manasa Talala, at the house of a senior police officer, Samisoni Naqica. The trial continues today.