SODELPA 3 Pay Own Costs
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.
Ilivasi Tabua (left), and Vetaia Roko outside the Nausori Magistrates Court on May 7, 2020.