– The Bob Amos se­ries con­tin­ues

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - THE BOB AMOS MUR­DER Avinesh Gopal Feed­back: [email protected]­

- He ar­rived in Fiji from the United States of Amer­ica in 1971 as a re­tired mil­i­tary of­fi­cer. - Robert Emer­son Amos, who was com­monly known as Bob Amos, mar­ried Prakash Wati in 1972 and he bought Kings Ho­tel in Nabua, Suva in May 1975. - Mr Amos was mur­dered be­tween June 3 and 5, 1985 in his ho­tel and his body was found on June 6 in a van parked at the Royal Suva Yacht Club. - Six peo­ple, in­clud­ing Prakash Wati Amos, were sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment by the Supreme Court in Suva for his mur­der af­ter a trial from March 3 to June 4, 1986. - Mrs Amos, Bi­jen­dra Rao, Jagdish Prasad, Ja­nen­dra Prasad, Ji­ten­dra Ku­mar and Josua Ralulu ap­pealed against their con­vic­tion and sen­tence but it was dis­missed by the Fiji Court of Ap­peal on Novem­ber 13, 1986. - Last week, the Fiji Sun took a look at the grounds of ap­peal filed by Mrs Amos, Rao, Jagdish, Ja­nen­dra and Ji­ten­dra. - As Part 4 of the se­ries on the Kings Ho­tel mur­der, to­day we take a look through court records at the case against Ralulu and his ap­peal.

The case against Josua Ralulu was that he was present on all four trips from Tavua to Suva and ac­tu­ally took part in the at­tack on Bob Amos which re­sulted in his death.

Ralulu was in­ter­viewed by the Po­lice on June 13, 1985 and he frankly ad­mit­ted his in­volve­ment in the killing, ac­cord­ing to the Fiji Court of Ap­peal judg­ment on Novem­ber 13, 1986.

He told Po­lice of the four vis­its to Suva and how on the last oc­ca­sion he and Ja­nen­dra and Ji­ten­dra went to Rao’s room at Kings Ho­tel and from there to Mr Amos’ room. Ralulu de­scribed the at­tack that then took place, his par­tic­i­pa­tion, how the body was re­moved and his at­tempts to con­ceal signs of the at­tack by cut­ting blood stained patches from the mat­tress cover.

He did not chal­lenge his in­ter­view state­ment in court and he gave ev­i­dence in his own de­fence at the trial and ac­cepted that he had vol­un­tar­ily given his state­ment to Po­lice. He was not one of the orig­i­nal ap­pel­lants and his ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal was well out of time, be­ing filed only five days be­fore the ap­peal hear­ing

The court, how­ever, gave him leave to ar­gue his grounds of ap­peal.

Grounds of Ap­peal

Ralulu ar­gued that the learned trial Judge erred in law when he mis­di­rected the as­ses­sors on the ques­tion of the de­fence of com­pul­sion.

He ar­gued that the learned trial Judge erred in fact and in law when he failed to di­rect the as­ses­sors on the pos­si­ble ef­fect of liquor on his mind.

Also, he claimed that the learned trial Judge erred in law when he failed to di­rect on the is­sue of man­slaugh­ter in re­la­tion to him. On the is­sue of com­pul­sion, Ralulu said in his ev­i­dence in chief that Ja­nen­dra and Ji­ten­dra went into Mr Amos’ room from Rao’s room and be­gan at­tack­ing him.

He said that he was fright­ened and in­tended to run away and take no part when he felt some­thing sharp in his side.

Ralulu said he turned and saw that Jagdish was hold­ing a knife against his side and threat­ened him by say­ing “look, if you are not go­ing to do what I will tell you to do, if that man is not go­ing to die, I will kill you”. Fol­low­ing that, Ralulu said he went into Mr Amos’ room and punched him as he was try­ing to rise from the bed and Ja­nen­dra and Ji­ten­dra then suc­ceeded in sub­du­ing him.

The trial Judge’s sum­ming up

A de­tailed di­rec­tion on Ralulu’s de­fence of com­pul­sion was given to the as­ses­sors by the trial Judge, who pointed out the cir­cum­stances they may think rel­e­vant when con­sid­er­ing the de­fence of com­pul­sion. Ralulu made no men­tion of be­ing threat­ened by Jagdish in his Po­lice state­ment, that he was much big­ger and stronger man than Jagdish and that he had am­ple op­por­tu­nity to es­cape from his predica­ment ear­lier in the evening.

De­fence of in­tox­i­ca­tion

Ralulu’s ev­i­dence was that on the fourth and fi­nal trip from Tavua to Suva which would have been on June 2, he drove a rental car with Jagdish, Ji­ten­dra and Ja­nen­dra as pas­sen­gers.

On the jour­ney, six bot­tles of beer and half bot­tle of Rum were drunk, most of it by Ralulu and Ji­ten­dra.

They spent the night in Suva and in the course of the fol­low­ing day they drank another six bot­tles of beer and half bot­tle of Rum.

They went to the Kings Ho­tel some­time be­tween 7 and 8pm and had some time to wait in Rao’s room be­fore go­ing to Mr Amos’ room. Ralulu said dur­ing that time he slept.

At no stage in his state­ment to the Po­lice or in his ev­i­dence in chief did he claim that he did what he did be­cause he was af­fected by liquor.

It was not un­til he was cross-ex­am­ined by Rao’s lawyer that the is­sue of drunk­en­ness arose.

The Fiji Court of Ap­peal judg­ment states that on more than one oc­ca­sion Ralulu as­serted that although he had been af­fected by liquor when he first went to the ho­tel, he was not so af­fected by the time of the al­leged threat by Jagdish.

His con­sis­tent plea was that he be­came in­volved in the at­tack on Mr Amos solely be­cause of the threat by Jagdish, not be­cause of the ef­fects of liquor.

Ralulu’s lawyer raised the de­fence of in­tox­i­ca­tion at the trial and the trial Judge di­rected the as­ses­sors upon it.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fiji Court of Ap­peal judg­ment, what the trial Judge did not tell the as­ses­sors was that a ver­dict of man­slaugh­ter would have been open against Ralulu if they were sat­is­fied that he took part in the at­tack but were left in rea­son­able doubt whether he had the nec­es­sary in­tent be­cause of his con­sump­tion of liquor.

“The di­rec­tion given by the trial Judge was in fact more favourable than it should have been be­cause the ef­fect of his di­rec­tion was that if the as­ses­sors were sat­is­fied Ralulu took part but lacked in­tent through in­tox­i­ca­tion then he should be ac­quit­ted,” the judg­ment said.

“That aside, it is our opin­ion that the trial Judge would have been fully jus­ti­fied in re­fus­ing to put the de­fence of in­tox­i­ca­tion to the as­ses­sors.

“There was never any sug­ges­tion from Ralulu that he did what he did be­cause of the ef­fects of liquor, or that he did not know what he was do­ing be­cause of its con­sump­tion,” the Fiji Court of Ap­peal said.

Ralulu’s ap­peal was also dis­missed like the ap­peals by the other five ap­pel­lants, who served their life sen­tences in prison be­fore be­ing re­leased.

Kings Ho­tel on July 1985. INSET: Left, Bob Amos. Right, the van in which his body was dumped.

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