‘Witch­doc­tor’ among suspects in killing of Nileshni Ku­mar’s fam­ily

Fiji Sun - - High­lands Tragedy - Edited by Naisa Koroi

Christchur­ch for the past few years.

The man was re­leased from Po­lice cus­tody on Wed­nes­day evening as the 48-hour pe­riod for which he can be kept had ex­pired.

His wife will be re­leased by Po­lice this morn­ing as the 48-hour pe­riod for her to be kept in cus­tody ex­pires. An ap­pli­ca­tion was made by the Po­lice, through the Of­fice of the Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions, in the High Court at Lau­toka yesterday, to keep the cou­ple in cus­tody un­til Septem­ber 3, to carry out fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

It is un­der­stood that the DPP’s of­fice had sub­mit­ted the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fence and that it had taken place in the in­te­rior of Nau­sori High­lands and that was why it was tak­ing a long time for Po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate.

The cou­ple’s de­fence lawyers, Jashvir Singh and Mun­sami Chetty, sub­mit­ted that there was no sup­port­ing ev­i­dence that the cou­ple was in­volved in the of­fence.

They said the cou­ple would co-op­er­ate with the Po­lice if they were needed.

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to ar­gu­ments, the court dis­missed the ap­pli­ca­tion for an extension of time to keep the cou­ple in Po­lice cus­tody un­til Septem­ber 3.

How­ever, Po­lice con­firmed last night that the court is­sued a stop de­par­ture or­der against the cou­ple, which means that they can­not leave the coun­try and re­turn to New Zea­land.

The cou­ple was taken in by Po­lice for ques­tion­ing in con­nec­tion with the deaths of Nir­mal Ku­mar, 63, his wife Usha Ku­mar, 54, their daugh­ter Nileshni Ku­mar, 34, and her two daugh­ters Sana, 11, and Sa­ma­rah, 8. The bod­ies of the five peo­ple were found at the Nau­sori High­lands in Nadi on Mon­day morn­ing. Sa­maira Ku­mar, who turns one-year-old to­mor­row, and who was be­ing looked af­ter by the Ku­mars, was found alive near the bod­ies.

A car be­lieved to be owned by Mr Ku­mar was found parked at a supermarke­t car park near Nadi In­ter­na­tional Air­port, a few hours af­ter the dis­cov­ery of the bod­ies in the treach­er­ous moun­tain re­gion. Po­lice spokesper­son Ana Naisoro said yesterday that the find­ings of the post-mortem on Wed­nes­day were con­sis­tent with an al­leged sub­stance in­gested by all five vic­tims, which re­sulted in their deaths. Ms Naisoro said more tests would be con­ducted by the Fiji Po­lice Chem­istry Sci­en­tific Lab in Nasova, Suva.

A Po­lice of­fi­cer in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tions said last night that the cou­ple could not leave the coun­try as per the stop de­par­ture or­der is­sued by the High Court at Lau­toka.

“We re­leased the man, who we have been told is a witch­doc­tor, yesterday (Wed­nes­day) and we will re­lease the woman when her 48 hours ex­pires to­mor­row (to­day),” he said.

“They are our prime suspects right now. Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence that we have, we tried to ex­haust all av­enues to keep them in cus­tody longer for ques­tion­ing in con­nec­tion with the five deaths.

“We also ran a check on the cou­ple and they are both known in our Po­lice records, so we are just won­der­ing now how they got a PR for New Zea­land.”

The of­fi­cer said they were wait­ing for the re­sults of fur­ther tests by their foren­sics de­part­ment, say­ing there was not a like­li­hood at this stage of sam­ples be­ing sent over­seas as they had the ca­pa­bil­ity to do it in Suva.

He said fur­ther tests in Suva were likely to take be­tween two and three weeks as they had to as­cer­tain what chem­i­cal was used that caused the deaths of three adults and two chil­dren.

“We will get the cou­ple in for ques­tion­ing at any time as our in­ves­ti­ga­tions progress and we are still try­ing to as­cer­tain the mo­tive for the killings,” he said.

Top inset photo: Bot­tom Inset photo:

Dead...Nileshni Ku­mar. Dead ... Nir­mal Ku­mar and wife Usha.

Pho­tos: Waisea Na­sokia

Po­lice of­fi­cers ques­tion neigh­bours out­side the house of the late Ku­mar fam­ily in Le­galega, Nadi, on Au­gust 29, 2019.

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