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In court with Assumpta Buchanan

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Ruling on Pitabelama case, Friday

A MAGISTRATE will rule on the no-case-to-answer submission made by the lawyer representing former Ombudsman, John Smith Pitabelama, this Friday.

Michael Pitakaka of M.P Law Chamber, who represented Pitabelama, now a private lawyer, made the no-case-to-answer submission following the close of the prosecution case last Friday.

Arguments on the matter were made yesterday before Principal Magistrate Jim Seuika.

The trial that has been held in Gizo Magistrate’s Court has been transferred to Honiara after prosecution called 10 witnesses.

Its final witness gave evidence in Honiara due to medical reasons that does not enable the witness to travel to Gizo for the trial.

In the event the court finds a case against Pitabelama, he will be calling 15 witnesses.

The 56-year-old accused, who owns the JSP Legal Service, is on trial for one count of Larceny & embezzlement by servant.

Police alleged Pitabelama stole more than $15,000 of Government money between 1 January 1999 and 1 January 2001.

This was when he was working as a police officer at Choiseul provincial capital Taro, where he later became the provincial police commander (PPC) in 2000.

The money he allegedly stolen was intended to pay for an Out Board Motor engine for the
Taro police station.

Public Prosecutor Augustine Aulanga and the Director of Public Prosecutions Ronald Bei Talasasa are prosecuting the case.

Father told to find lawyer

THE court has given more time for a Guadalcanal man who allegedly ill-treated his five year-old son to find a lawyer.

Zakius Mevea, who faces one count of cruelty to children, appeared on Monday in the Honiara Magistrate’s Court without a lawyer.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Garo advised Mevea to find a lawyer to assist him since the charge against him is serious.

It was alleged that on January 26 this year at Tohasui village in North Guadalcanal, Mevea had an argument with his wife over money for beer.

After his wife had gone to a canteen, Mevea allegedly destroyed their belongings in their house in the presence of his children.

Police alleged that Mevea then asked his five year-old son to bring him a knife.

But when his son disobeyed him, Mevea grabbed him by his left hand and swung him above the ground towards a fire.

Mevea’s wife returned to see her husband treating their son that way, and therefore had the matter reported to the police.

The matter will be brought before the court on March 11.

Alice Foanaota of the Police Prosecutions is prosecuting the case.


Drug dealer jailed

A PRESIDING magistrate has sent a young man to prison on Monday for being in possession of an illegal drug, marijuana.

Principle Magistrate Jim Seuika said it is high time that a deterrence sentence be imposed on people out on the streets and the community who are in possession of the dangerous drug.

He said the court needs to send out a strong message to the community that the sale of marijuana on the streets is unacceptable.

“People are now selling the drugs on the street like selling tobacco rolls,” Mr Seuika said.

Magistrate Seuika said it seems that the practice has been going on for sometimes now.

Marklyn Mamu, 18, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of marijuana when he appeared in court on Monday.

A total of 95 paper rolls of dried marijuana leaves were found in his bag.

After giving Mamu credit for his early guilty plea, Magistrate Seuika imposed a six month imprisonment term.

The maxi mum penalty of the offence in the Magistrate’s Court is a fine of $5,000 or an imprisonment term of six months or both.

Mamu represented himself in court.



Baby murder trial continues

THE trial of a man accused of killing his 10 month-old step-son and secretly burying him continues in the High Court.

The hearing started on Monday before Justice Stephen Pallaras.

Fred Maitaki faces one count of murder in relation to the alleged killing on 13 January 2011 at a village in Bellona, Renbel Province.

The mother of the baby had given her evidence in court at the start of the trial, followed by the evidences of three other witnesses, including a doctor.

The trial continues today.

Maitaki is represented by Wayne Ghemu and Hubert Fugui of Public Solicitor’s Office.

Appearing for the Crown are the Director of Public Prosecution Ronald Bei Talasasa and Public Prosecutor Margaret Suifa’asia.


Man jailed for trying to burn down police station

A MAN who tried to burn down the police station at Lata, Temotu Province, early this month is now serving his jail term.

Principal Magistrate Rodgers Tovosia sentenced the 22-year-old Steward Bade Vaiyu, of Santa Cruz, to six months in jail last week during a court sitting at Lata.

This was after Vaiyu pleaded guilty to the charges of attempted arson, going armed in public and using abusive words.

Vaiyu tried to burn down the Lata police station with kerosene on February 13, this year.

He committed the offences following his disagreement with the distribution of the Tsunami relief supplies.

Police said he was armed with a bush knife and a five litre container containing kerosene and a match when he came to the police station.

At the station Vaiyu took out the knife, poured out kerosene in front of the station and started swearing at the police.

But police managed to get hold of him when he was about to strike the match.

Vaiyu was under the influence of liquor at that time.