Thursday, March 04, 2010

Have Mercy says Lawyer for Ratu Inoke

Fiji Live - 04 March 2010

National Director of the SDL Party Peceli Kinivuwai appeared in the High Court this morning as a character witness for Qaranivalu Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, who has been found guilty of conspiracy to murder Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Kinivuwai told the court that Ratu Inoke was one of the architects in the formation of the SDL Party following the upheavals of 2000.

He added that Fiji suffered a major setback in 2000, which had catastrophic impacts, both politically and economically, and Ratu Inoke stood up and was one of the few people that was chosen by the Army Commander to try and get the country out of the crisis it was in.

Kinivuwai also told the court that Ratu Inoke's vision in the formation of the SDL was that it was to be a political party not only for the province of Naitasiri, but for all races in the country and for all the 14 provinces of Fiji.

Kinivuwai said this showed Ratu Inoke's heart for his people and the country.

He said that he believed Ratu Inoke is not only a vital component of the SDL, but a very vital person in the rebuilding of the province of Naitasiri and in doing so, rebuilding the nation as a whole.

The second character witness for the Qaranivalu was Reverend Pastor Poate Mata, who is the Chairman of the Spiritual Development Committee of the Province of Naitasiri.

He said he's known the Qaranivalu since 2000 and used to visit him while he was in custody at Korovou.

He told the court that through their discussions, Ratu Inoke gave his blessings for the foundation of the setting up of the Committee.

He said that Ratu Inoke is a humble person and he's accommodating and influential as a paramount chief, adding that nothing will ever progress in Naitasiri without Ratu Inoke.

Ratu Inoke's lawyer, Akuila Naco then told the court that Ratu Inoke is 63yrs old, is married with nine children, is the sole breadwinner, with the family dependent on him for their livelihood and support.

He told the court that the Qaranivalu also holds the Chairmanship for a number of boards and is at the forefront of the initiative to develop the Naitasiri province.

He said in the whole scheme of things for which he stands convicted, Ratu Inoke=s involvement was minimal.

He also said that when Ratu Inoke had pleaded not guilty to the offence, he was only exercising his constitutional right and also said that this was the first case of its kind in Fiji and while a sentence maybe used as a deterrent, he asked the court to consider Ratu Inoke's age, his service to the community and the political life of this nation and to give special consideration in this case.

Naco also highlighted Ratu Inoke's medical condition that he had to undergo an operation because of exposure to the conditions at Naboro Maximum prison while he was serving time in prison.

Naco said that the court is a court of justice but also a court of mercy and they seek mercy and a second chance.

He then asked the court for a non-custodial sentence for the Qaranivalu.

Defence lawyer Iqbal Khan is making joint submissions for accused Feoko Gadekibau, Barbados Mills, Metuisela Mua, Eparama Waqatairewa, Kamenieli Vosavere and Pauliasi Namulo on the laws of mitigation.

Khan asked the Justice Paul Madigan during mitigation that he consider the degree of participation for the six men that he represents, for example, for Metuisela Mua, Khan said his name never popped up until after the 14th meeting and he never attended any other meetings and so to take this as well as him being 66yrs old, into account.

Khan also said that for Eparama Waqatairewa, the only thing that he was guilty of was drinking grog there adding that Waqaitarewa never took part in the meetings.

He also pointed out that Kaminieli Vosavere and Pauliasi Namulo's degree of participation was also minimal as they were present but did not take part in the meeting.

Khan also asked the court to consider that the victim did not suffer any psychological impacts as the plan was never carried out.

Character witnesses for these six men are currently taking the stand.

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