Mua trial adjourned - Solomon Star News

Mua trial adjourned
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13 February 2019
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Dickson Mua


CHIEF Magistrate Emma Garo has granted an adjournment for the prosecution’s “crucial” witness in the Dickson Mua fraud trial to recover, before giving evidence on February 26.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea handed the ruling on Garo’s behalf yesterday as she is currently on a court circuit in the province.

In her ruling, Garo said the prosecution has failed to provide to the court evidence to justify the 30 days adjournment.

“.....nevertheless, I will give prosecution one last chance to get its act in order,” Garo said in her ruling.

“.... taking into account the seriousness of the offence, charge, and the public importance of this case, this matter is adjourned to 26th of February at 9am for continuation of trial.”

Public Prosecutor Sirepu Ramosaea had asked the court for a 30-day adjournment.

This is to allow their final and crucial witness to complete his medical treatment for anxiety and depression, before returning to give evidence.

Albert Wong, who is currently receiving medical treatment in Australia, previously informed prosecution and the police that he would return on February 7, and give evidence on the 8th.

However, on February 7, the court was informed that Wong is sick and needs to take his medication.

Wong’s lawyer, Wilson Rano, also sent a letter to the prosecution claiming police and prosecution are putting pressure on his client who is severely ill to give evidence.

Rano in his letter advised his client not to give evidence as he is currently under treatment and asked prosecution to seek a 30-day adjournment.

The following day, the prosecution made submissions asking the court for a 30-day adjournment but the defence strongly opposed it.

Private Lawyer Lesley Kwaiga earlier told the court his client wanted the case to end before the upcoming April 3 elections.

Public prosecutor Sirepu Ramosaea said there is no provision in the Electoral Act or Constitution to disallow Mua to contest the upcoming elections.

Kwaiga in response had submitted that in the minds of lawyers and the educated voters, a man is innocent until proven guilty but in the hearts of the rural voters, it is difficult.

“.......once you are charged with a criminal offence you are a criminal whether you are guilty or not.” 

He said the biggest hindrance his client will face is what he is going through now and that people will be saying, don’t vote for people who will go to prison.

Garo also pointed out to prosecution last week that there is nothing in the witness’s medical report to say what treatment he is taking, how long will it take and what date he will recover.

Ramosaea agreed that there is no evidence regarding the time or treatment Wong is taking and how long it will take to recover.

She submitted that adjournment is sought based on the requirement that cases can only be adjourned not more than 30 days.

Garo in her ruling said Mua is charged with a serious offence, that is the alleged conversion of $3million belonging to Solomon Islands Government.

She said this is a case of public importance that involves the alleged conversion of $3m.

“.....the people of Savo/Russell constituency are entitle to know what happen to the $3 million shipping grant paid to Savo/Russell constituency,” Garo said in her ruling.

She further added that Ramosaea submits that Wong is the key prosecution witness.

“However, Ramosaea fails to inform this court what is the nature of the evidence that Wong will be coming to give to the court.

“Court has been denied the opportunity to make this assessment by failure of prosecution to provide court with a summary of what Wong will come and say to the court.

“The prosecution also failed to enquire with Wong’s doctors to seek an explanation what treatment Wong is receiving, how long it will take Wong to recover,” Garo stated in her ruling.

She added that without this information the court is deprived of the evidence to decide it should grant an adjournment and if so, how long is reasonable.

In spite of these, Garo granted an adjournment, saying it’s the final one for prosecution to get their acts in order.

Mua is on trial for one count of conversion.

He was accused of diverting $3 million shipping grant intended to purchase a ship for his constituency in 2013.

Prosecution alleged he converted the $3 million meant for the ship for other uses.

The court earlier heard part of the money was paid to Wong’s business Oceanic Marine for boats. 

By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN

 

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