SODELPA 3 Pay Own Costs

Fiji Sun - - NATION - SHALVEEN CHAND Edited by Caro­line Ratu­cadra FONUA TALEI Edited by Caro­line Ratu­cadra

Two Tailevu farm­ers, who al­legedly hit a Po­lice of­fi­cer with a rock on the back on his head, pleaded guilty in court yes­ter­day.

Ve­taia Roko, 24, and Ili­vasi Tabua, 20, pleaded guilty to as­sault­ing a Po­lice of­fi­cer in the Mag­is­trates Court in Nau­sori.

They were ar­rested on Tues­day. The two were part of a drink­ing party, and al­legedly as­saulted Po­lice Con­sta­ble Ji­u­tasa Taiki. Mr Taiki was at­tend­ing to the re­port with an­other of­fi­cer when there was a com­mo­tion, which re­sulted in the group of sus­pects ar­gu­ing.

Mr Taiki tried to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion when some­one picked up a rock and al­legedly hit him on the back of his head.

Roko, Tabua and other sus­pects, who are yet to be ar­rested, are all farm­ers from Naivic­ula in Tailevu. In court, the two men chose to rep­re­sent them­selves and waived their rights to coun­sel be­fore plead­ing guilty to all the charges.

Roko was charged with two counts of crim­i­nal tres­pass, two of se­ri­ous as­sault, one each of in­de­cently an­noy­ing a per­son, fail­ing to com­ply with a right­ful or­der, dam­ag­ing prop­erty and as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing griev­ous harm.

Tabua was charged with one count each fail­ing to com­ply with a right­ful or­der, se­ri­ous as­sault and as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing griev­ous harm. Po­lice pros­e­cu­tor Lagi Bulavakaru­a made an ap­pli­ca­tion to present the sum­mary of of­fence on the next court date.

Roko and Tabua were re­manded and will front court on May 11.

Three se­nior SODELPA mem­bers will pay their own le­gal costs af­ter they filed an ap­peal in the Court of Ap­peal against the or­ders de­liv­ered by the High Court on April 23, 2020.

They are ousted SODELPA pres­i­dent Ro Filipe Tui­sawau, gen­eral sec­re­tary Adi Li­tia Qion­i­bar­avi and Usaia Waqatairew­a.

Party leader Si­tiveni Rabuka con­firmed the mem­bers were not ap­peal­ing on be­half of the party but as in­di­vid­u­als.

Ro Filipe said they were pay­ing for the ap­peal from their own pock­ets and not paid for by the party. Ques­tions emailed to Adi Li­tia re­mained unan­swered when this story was pub­lished. Ash­nil Narayan of AK Lawyers said their firm was no­ti­fied about the ap­peal yes­ter­day morn­ing and would re­view the doc­u­ments in the days to come and get in­struc­tions from their clients.

The re­spon­dents are Wati­soni Nata, Ke­saia Makita, Ase­naca Ravulo, Ro­gowale Senivi­avia, Mere

Samisoni, Emele Duitu­turaga, Jope Koroisavou, Silivenusi Waqausa and Malakai Vuetibau.

Lawyer for the ap­pel­lants Simione Valen­itabua said the ap­peal was filed at 4pm on Wed­nes­day and all re­spon­dents have been served ex­cept for Com­mu­nity Leader Silivenusi Waqausa who was in Savusavu.

He said SODELPA as the party is not part of pro­ceed­ings yet.

“We are ap­ply­ing for ‘stay’, which should be filed early next week.

The ap­pel­lants sought our le­gal ad­vice on set­tle­ment as en­cour­aged by the Leader of Op­po­si­tion and Party Leader and we sup­port such rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ex­er­cise within the ap­pel­late pro­ceed­ings,” Mr Valen­itabua said.

“The re­moval of the party SODELPA as a party (to pro­ceed­ings) is a tes­ta­ment to this in­ten­tion.”

No­tice of Ap­peal

In the no­tice of ap­peal, the ap­pel­lants are seek­ing to quash and set aside the judg­ment de­liv­ered by Jus­tice Vishwa Sharma in the High Court.

They’ve asked for an or­der to stay Jus­tice Sharma’s judg­ment pend­ing the ap­peal hear­ing and de­ter­mi­na­tion, and an or­der that the 2019 SODELPA an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Savusavu did not breach the party Con­sti­tu­tion and Fiji’s Con­sti­tu­tion.

In ad­di­tion to seek­ing an or­der to val­i­date all elec­tions, de­ci­sions, res­o­lu­tions and out­comes of the AGM, the ap­pel­lants have also asked that the Regis­trar of Political Par­ties be no­ti­fied to make nec­es­sary amend­ments to the Reg­is­ter. Fur­ther­more, they have sub­mit­ted that the re­spon­dents should pay them $6500 in costs within 14 days and ap­peal costs re­spec­tively.

Grounds of Ap­peal

The ap­pel­lants have sub­mit­ted 12 grounds of ap­peal where they are chal­leng­ing the High Court de­ci­sion and that the Learned Jus­tice erred in law and fact.

Both par­ties will ap­pear be­fore the Chief Regis­trar for di­rec­tions once all ap­peal process has been com­plied with.

Photo: Ron­ald Ku­mar

Ili­vasi Tabua (left), and Ve­taia Roko out­side the Nau­sori Mag­is­trates Court on May 7, 2020.

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