Reports by MARGARET WISE Friday, March 13, 2009
Soldier Joeli Lesavua outside Lautoka court yesterday after the assessors returned a verdict of guilt against him and eight others of manslaughter and assault.
EIGHT soldiers and a former policeman were yesterday found guilty of manslaughter by the assessors in the Sakiusa Rabaka murder trial.
The assessors had rejected a murder charge but were unanimous in their opinion that the nine accuseds were guilty of manslaughter and five counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Lautoka High Court judge Justice Daniel Goundar agreed with the outcome but reserved conviction until Tuesday after a request from defence lawyer Haroon Ali Shah.
Mr Shah said he wanted the judge to hold on entering a conviction because consideration should be given to the group of accused with nil or negligible evidence of assault. He said he wanted to mitigate separately for them.
To that, Justice Goundar said he had not seen any sign of remorse. He reminded Mr Shah that such gestures carried "great weight". The judge asked if the accuseds would consider apologising to Rabaka's mother, Alanieta.
Outside the court, an emotional Mrs Rabaka said she had no time for reconciliation now.
"I waited two years for one of them to come and tell me what happened. To say they were sorry. To feel my pain. But no one came," Mrs Rabaka said.
"I am a Fijian, they are Fijians. I am a Christian, they are Christians. I would have accepted it then. It is before the courts now so we just have to let the law take its course."
Rabaka died in February 2007, a month after he and a group of friends were assaulted at the Black Rock military training base in Votualevu, Nadi.
He was hospitalised and underwent surgery for brain injuries in the days prior to his death.
Former policemen Patrick Nayacalagilagi and soldiers Taione Lua, Ulaiasi Radike, Etonio Nadura, Ratunaisa Toutou, Joeli Lesavua, Jona Nareki, Ilaisa Kurimavua and Napolioni Naulia will know their fate next week.