The Miss­ing Lata Sis­ters

Fiji Sun Ex­plores the case of the

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your spe­cial fea­ture to­day

mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance of the 3 sis­ters and the ac­cused, Dip Chand

The boat was found drift­ing with vis­i­ble signs of blood on the boat and the ex­pla­na­tion of­fered by Chand was that they were set upon by un­known per­sons who ap­proached his boat in a red boat and ab­ducted the three girls.

DIP CHAND AND THE LATA SIS­TERS It is a case that was prob­a­bly never heard of in Fiji un­til 2005. Peo­ple had gone miss­ing be­fore and some were later found to be with their loved ones. But in this par­tic­u­lar case, three teen sis­ters liv­ing in the same house went miss­ing dur­ing a fish­ing trip and pic­nic, and have never re­turned home. They were re­port­edly mur­dered by the per­son they went with but neither their bod­ies nor any parts have been found to date. The man they went with is serv­ing a life sen­tence in prison for their mur­ders Dip Chand is a well-known name to those who are fa­mil­iar with the case of the miss­ing sis­ters – Ashika Sherin Lata, 19, Renuka Ro­hini Lata, 18, and Rad­hika Roshni Lata, 17. To­day, the Fiji Sun takes a look back through court doc­u­ments on the case of the miss­ing sis­ters and Dip Chand.

Dip Chand is a name that has to come up when­ever there are any dis­cus­sions about the three miss­ing sis­ters of Naria in Raki­raki.

The reason is be­cause he is serv­ing a life sen­tence for their mur­ders, with a min­i­mum term of 19 years im­pris­on­ment.

It was June 26, 2005 when he took the sis­ters and is be­lieved to have mur­dered them on the same day. He was sen­tenced by the High Court in Lau­toka on May 19, 2006 af­ter be­ing unan­i­mously found guilty by the three as­ses­sors and the trial Judge.

Af­ter be­ing sen­tenced, Chand filed an ap­peal against his con­vic­tion and sen­tence in the Court of Ap­peal, which on Oc­to­ber 19, 2010 af­firmed the sen­tence im­posed on him by the High Court.

He then made an ap­pli­ca­tion in the Supreme Court of Fiji for spe­cial leave to ap­peal against the judg­ment of the Court of Ap­peal, but it was re­fused.

The ap­pli­ca­tion was heard by the Judges of the Supreme Court – Jus­tice Saleem Mar­soof, Jus­tice Sathyaa Het­tige and Jus­tice Sriskan­dara­jah Sun­daram who de­liv­ered

their judg­ment on May 8, 2012. In their judg­ment, they said the pe­ti­tioner (Chand) was charged on three counts of mur­der con­trary to Sec­tions 199 and 200 of the Pe­nal Code, Chap­ter 17, of three sis­ters, Ashika Sherin Lata, Renuka Ro­hini Lata and Rad­hika Roshni Lata, who were re­spec­tively 19, 18, and 17 years of age when they were mur­dered by the pe­ti­tioner.

The in­ci­dent

It is com­mon ground that the three young ladies were taken from their home in the west­ern end of Viti Levu by the pe­ti­tioner whom they called “aaja” (grand­fa­ther) in his boat to­wards the nearby Malake Is­land on a fish­ing trip and pic­nic.

The fol­low­ing day, the boat was found drift­ing with vis­i­ble signs of blood on the boat. The ex­pla­na­tion of­fered by Chand was that they were set upon by un­known per­sons who ap­proached his boat in a red boat and ab­ducted the three girls af­ter beat­ing him and ren­der­ing him un­con­scious.

An ex­ten­sive search car­ried out at sea in the vicin­ity of Malake Is­land for a num­ber of days proved fu­tile and the bod­ies of the three sis­ters were never found.

The confession

In the course of his Po­lice cau­tion in­ter­view on July 4, 2005, Chand con­fessed that he killed the three sis­ters, hit­ting each one of them re­peat­edly on the head with a stick he used to kill fish af­ter a frenzy over an ar­gu­ment he had with Ashika.

He sub­stan­tively re­peated this po­si­tion while re­spond­ing to the three charges that were read out to him by Po­lice on July 6, 2005.

Voir dire (trial within the trial)

This was held at the High Court in Lau­toka from May 1 to 8, 2006, dur­ing which the State called eight wit­nesses while Chand made an unsworn state­ment.

The trial Judge de­liv­ered his rul­ing on May 10, hold­ing that Chand’s confession was made vol­un­tar­ily.

The trial proper

Chand was tried be­fore three as­ses­sors from May 10 to May 18, with 17 prose­cu­tion and three de­fence wit­nesses tes­ti­fy­ing.

At the end of the trial, the three as­ses­sors unan­i­mously found Chand guilty as charged and he was con­victed and sen­tenced.

Ap­pli­ca­tion to Ad­duce Fresh Ev­i­dence

Chand filed a fresh ap­pli­ca­tion on Novem­ber 2, 2011 for spe­cial leave to ap­peal, which con­tained 13 grounds of ap­peal, with ground one be­ing di­rectly rel­e­vant to the motion for per­mis­sion to ad­duce fresh ev­i­dence.

It said the trial mis­car­ried since the Po­lice and/or the prose­cu­tion did not dis­close to the de­fence Chand’s med­i­cal card kept by Natabua prison and de­tails of his med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion at the Lau­toka Hospi­tal on July 14, 2005 de­spite con­sent­ing to the ten­der of Chand’s x-ray re­port dated July 14 dur­ing the trial.

Four af­fi­davits were filed by Chand in sup­port of the motion to pro­duce the med­i­cal card con­tain­ing cer­tain notes per­tain­ing to his med­i­cal condition within the pe­riod July 8 to Au­gust 13, 2005 as fresh ev­i­dence.

There were two af­fi­davits sworn by Chand on Novem­ber 3 and Novem­ber 21, 2011, and by Inoke Takiveikat­a, who was the med­i­cal or­derly at­tached to Natabua Prison at that time, and Dr Akhtar Ali, who was the prin­ci­pal med­i­cal of­fi­cer at Lau­toka Hospi­tal who had ex­am­ined Chand on July 14 and July 29 while he was in cus­tody.

NEXT WEEK Dip Chand’s Med­i­cal Re­port

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