Men deny sorcery-related killing
TEN of the 12 men accused of the murder of a man at Malaisu village in South Guadalcanal in March this year have denied the allegation against them on Monday.
Dudley Garebola, 22, Joshua Garebola, 36, John Mare, 22, Peter Rangia, 22, Patrick Ngelea Vasihara, 22, Patterson Sora, 24, Risi Sirovimate 23, Gray Rai, 23, Devenold Tagobola, 19, and an 18-year-old juvenile had entered not guilty pleas to one count of murder.
Following their not guilty pleas, their lawyers informed the court that they have elected short form preliminary inquiries to be conducted on their cases.
Henry Pitu, 56, and Jamin Saroa, 20, are yet to enter their pleas.
This was because their lawyers are yet to obtain instruction for the plea.
Pitu’s lawyer is seeking disclosures from the prosecution.
The inquiry or committal hearing will be conducted after Pitu and Saroa entered their pleas and had elected the type of inquiry to be conducted on their matter.
The court also heard that the prosecution will be assessing evidence regarding Pitu which does not go down well with the magistrate.
Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi is concern about the delay in this matter saying that reviewing of evidence should have been made earlier.
She said this matter has been delayed for almost five months.
Taeburi, however, granted a short adjournment for tomorrow.
She directed the prosecution to disclose materials to Pitu’s lawyer before the close of business yesterday.
She also directed the prosecution to consider their position regarding Pitu.
Saroa’s lawyer was directed to give instructions for the plea and election of preliminary inquiry as well.
This matter relates to an incident that happened on the night between March 19 and 20 this year along the road between Sughu and Malaisu villages.
It was alleged that prior to the incident the group of the accused and the deceased attended a church program at Sughu Anchorage, in the Talise Ward.
After the church program, the group of accused allegedly approached the deceased about a sorcery-related matter that occurred recently where a man died from their village.
It is alleged that the suspects dragged the deceased to Malaisu village where they attacked him resulting in severe multiple wounds that allegedly caused the death of the deceased.
The deceased and another victim were taken to Avuavu clinic for medical treatment where the deceased died.
Men released after serving jail terms
THREE men who were sentenced for causing disturbances at a religious gathering at Marau, East Guadalcanal last April due to some disagreements to last year’s National General Election were released from prison, Monday.
Simon Anisiau, 24, Francis Makario and Village Chief Donation Tavoa, 58, were sentenced to various jail terms after pleading guilty to charges of disturbing religious assembly and using abusive words.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea imposed a total of seven months jail terms each for Anisau and Makario while a total of eight months jail was imposed for Tavoa.
After imposing the sentences, Iomea backdated them to when they were first remanded in custody.
“Having backdated their sentences, the defendants have now served their sentences and therefore, I order that they be released at the rising of the court,” Iomea said.
Tavoa and Makario were remanded in custody since 19 October 2019 while Anisau was remanded since 3 February 2020.
The men were charged in relation to the incident at around 6 pm on 13 April 2019 at Marau station.
They were part of a group of drunken people who entered Makina Catholic Mission Station area and disturbed the worshipers who were practicing for Easter festive season.
The men threw rocks at the church building and as a result, the church members were terrified and ran out of the church.
At that time, the three men shouted to those who voted for the person whose symbol in the National General Election was a “TREE” to come out from the church building.
They also swore at those who voted for the person.
AS a result, the program was cancelled.
They then went to Makina Primary School compound where they shouted and uttered swearing words targeting the “Tree voters”.
Iomea said offences were committed due to disagreement with how some registered voters at Makina Community voted in the National General Election.
He said the accused persons committed the offence at night whilst in a group that contributed to the fear that the members of the community had at that time of offending.
“The throwing of stones at the church building had put the church members in danger of physical harm and especially when the group was under the influence of liquor.”
Iomea said as village chief and elder Tavoa should have behaved and acted responsibly but instead, he was the one engaging with the others to commit the offences.
Before handing the sentence Iomea gave credit for their guilty pleas, two of them are young married men while one is a father and grandfather.
“Their imprisonments so far have had an impact on their families to which they alone must take the blame,’ Iomea added.
Iomea noted that they are all first-time offenders.
He said on this occasion, they could not control their dissatisfaction with the manner in which some members of their constituency had exercised their right to vote and found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
“Whether they were aware or not, the choice of who to vote in an election is solely the right of each individual voter.
“Thus, when one chooses to cast his or her ballot for a candidate of his/her choice then that should be appreciated and accepted.”
Iomea said the sentence imposed will not only punish the defendants for breaking the law but must also reflect public condemnation of such unlawful and inconsiderate acts and the need to deter this kind of unlawful acts by the defendants and others.
Seven months imprisonment was each imposed on Makario and Anisau for disturbing religious assembly and one month each for using abusive words.
Tavoa received eight months jail term for the first count and another one month for the second count.
The charges were ordered to run concurrently.
Public Solicitor’s lawyer Haniel Max, Steven Weago and Bobby Harunari appeared for the three accused
Three of their co-accused namely Godfrey Sautahi, Luke Olo, and Ukan Eliseus have also pleaded guilty to the same charges in relation to this incident.
Their matter was dealt with last week during the Marau Court Circuit.
They were each sentenced to five months imprisonment and were also released because they have already served their time while remanded in custody.
They were remanded in custody for six months already.
Public Prosecutor Jonathan Auga appeared for the Crown.