A MAGISTRATE last Friday discharged a man accused of leading a group that removed 59 bags of beche-de-mer at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources last October.
Reginald Aipia was discharged after principal magistrate Jim Seuka dismissed the case on the basis it was instituted more than six months after the crime was allegedly committed.
Mr Seuka also ordered the bech-de-mer products seized by the Fisheries Officers and the police, which are currently in custody of the Police to be returned to Aipia without further delay.
Police charged Mr Aipia for removing the confiscated products from the Ministry of Fisheries, alleging that he got them when the bech-de-mer ban was in force.
However, Aipia said he got permission from the director of fisheries James Teri to remove the products.
But Mr Teri refuted the claim saying Aipia’s action was an act of theft.
Aipia hid the bags of beche-de-mer until last month when police raided a Lio Ridge home occupied by his sister and confiscated the products.
Meanwhile, Aipia said the 59 bags of beche-de-mer are worth between $600,000 to $800,000 and not $10 million as reported in the media.
By EDDIE OSIFELO