Thursday, March 04, 2010

Mutineers Lawyer asks the court to treat them as first offenders

Fiji Village News - 4 March 2010

Barbados Mills (left) and Pauliasi Namulo

Defence Counsel Iqbal Khan has stressed to High Court Judge Justice Paul Madigan to treat his clients Barbados Mills and Feoko Gadikibau convicted of conspiracy to murder as first offenders under the Penal code, despite the two being convicted to five years imprisonment by the General court martial on mutiny charges.

Khan while mitigating on behalf of Mills and Gadekibau pointed to the details of previous convictions on the two presented in court by State Prosecutor David Toganivalu which shows nil convictions.

Khan said the two must be treated as first offenders saying that while the two had been convicted on the mutiny charges, it does not come under the crimes in the penal code.

A character witness for Gadekibau, Pastor Sisa Ro Uluilakeba told the court that Gadekibau was involved in helping the youth group in his community and a trust worthy man who was different from others in the area as he never got involved in criminal activities and decided to join the army.

Character witness Pastor Pio Asaele told the court that Barbados Mills has suffered through his life and that his wife is expecting their second child sometime this week.

Khan informed the court that Mills is 42 years old and the case has been hanging over his head for three years, making life hard for him and his young family.

Khan has highlighted that all the accused were held in custody for 40 days and that they were allegedly brutally assaulted during their arrest.

He urged the court to consider these issues when deliberating on an appropriate sentence.

Khan asked Justice Paul Madigan during mitigation that he consider the degree of participation of the six men who 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.

He also suggested to Judge Madigan to consider the element of entrapment saying it should be considered as a mitigating factor in the case.

In relation to the former head of the Fiji Intelligence Service Metuisela Mua, Khan asked Justice Madigan to consider his client's wish to spend the remainder of his life with his wife who is sickly and needs medical care overseas.

Khan told the court that doctors have recommended treating Mua's wife overseas and because of this, it is Mua's sincere plea to consider while sentencing his desire to be with his wife.

Khan also asked the court to take into consideration that he is 66 years old, married with two children and at the moment is the sole bread winner for his wife and their five grand children who reside with them.

Khan said that in Mua's 37 years in the civil service with the military he had an unblemished career, and contributed a lot not only to his own community but to the country as a whole.

He went on to say that Mua is also sickly due to the fact that he was shot and wounded while serving in Lebanon in 1999, and till today that bullet is still embedded in his bones which is the cause of his medical problems.

As a character referee, Mua's long time friend and former Divisional Education Officer Eastern Saula Turaganivalu told the court he knew Mua when he co-founded the Kadavu Choir in 1978, and since then he has known Mua to be a family man and had contributed a lot to his community emphasizing on the importance of education, organizing late night classes for students, some of whom today are now in tertiary institutions.

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

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