Technical issue in Aipia-Hagberg case rejected
THE Court has on Monday dismissed the application on a technical issue raised on the case of Dr Reginald Aipia and his American business consultant Eric Hagberg.
Principal Magistrate Ricky Iomea on Monday ruled that the section 126 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) does not apply on the accused’s Hagberg’s case.
Nuatali Tongarutu of ANT Legal Service, who represents Hagberg, had raised the technical issue regarding the Director of Public Prosecution’s sanction to institute proceedings against Hagberg who is a foreign national.
Section 126 of the CPC reads: “Proceedings for the trial of any person, who is not a citizen or person entitled under the provisions of sections 7 or 8 of the Immigration Act to enter and reside in Solomon Islands, for an offence committed within Solomon Islands waters, shall not be instituted in any court except with the leave of the Director of Public Prosecutions and upon his certificate that it is expedient that such proceedings should be instituted.
She said it is expedient that such proceedings should be used.
Mr Iomea said Hagberg is from New Jersey, United States of America (USA) and is a foreigner.
His lawyer submitted that given he is a foreigner, a sanction from the DPP is required in the proceedings and added that the certificate of that sanction for proceeding must be provided to the court.
She said in this case, there was no sanction from the DPP and therefore the charge against her client should be dismissed.
Mr Iomea however said Hagberg is charged with engaging in commercial aquaculture without a valid licence.
He said the question is whether the alleged offence is committed within the Solomon Islands waters.
Mr Iomea said having perused the offence of the charge, he is of the view that section 126 of the CPC does not apply on Hagberg’s case.
He added that Hagberg is charged for allegedly engaging in aquaculture without a valid licence and this offence cannot be said is committed in Solomon Islands waters.
In his judgment, he said section 126 of the CPC is only to cover foreigners who committed offences on high seas or in boats or fishing vessels and so forth.
Having dismissed the application by the defence, Mr Iomea adjourned the matter to October 27.
This is for the pre-trial conference.
The prosecution was ordered to have the draft pre-trial conference prepared and served to the defence before that date.
Hagberg had already pleaded not guilty to one count of engaging in commercial aquaculture without a valid licence while Dr Aipia pleaded not guilty to the charges of engaging in commercial aquaculture without a valid licence and prohibition of catches and retains of beche-der-mer.
The prosecution alleged the two accused began constructing beche-de-mer farms in the month of July 2017 without having a valid license.
It was further alleged that Dr Aipia and his party began harvesting beche-der-mer on the 10th of July 2017 in the Lord Howe atolls.
The Luapel House of Chiefs and their MP on the 12th of July 20-17, allegedly made a letter to the Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources.
The letter contained a report of illegal harvesting and farming of beche-der-mer by Dr Apia and Hagberg.
Dr Apia is the founder and president of the Ontong Java Development Company while Hagberg works as a consultant for the Java Development Company.
According to the allegation, Hagberg from the United States of America, worked with Apia in constructing the farms.
He started working during the initial stages of the construction of the farms up till their completion and is said to be responsible for making the beche-der-mer reproduce.
Hagberg was also responsible for managing, advising and setting up the farms.
The duo were arrested and charged after a joint taskforce comprising police and fisheries officers went to Ontong Java on the 10th of September 2017 and discovered five farms of beche-der-mer.
The five farms are located on the islands of Kepae, Koromai, Keukua, Kelomo and Henuai.
Mr Bitibule Kaehuna of Rano & Company law firm is representing Dr Aipia while appearing yesterday for the Crown was Public Prosecutor Bradley Dalipanda on the instructions of his colleague Andrew Kelesi.
Guo faces court
Chinese investor Shi Yao Guo who was accused of intimidating a worker of Austree Enterprise PTY Ltd with a knife last month has appeared in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Guo faces one count of intimidation.
His lawyer Gabriel Suri of Suri’s Law Practice however asked the court regarding the wordings at the top of the charge sheet his client was served with.
The charge sheet contained wordings to the effect, “NOTICE OF OFFENCE CHARGE.”
Guo was supposed to enter his plea yesterday but did not do so given that Mr Suri raised this issue regarding the wordings on the charge sheet.
Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi therefore adjourned this matter to October 25 for prosecution to confirm if this is the charge sheet the prosecution will proceed with.
Guo was a former director of the China United Corporation Limited but Austree now owns China United after paying off 90 percent shares in it.
The prosecution alleged that on 12 September 2017 at about 4pm, the complainant who is a member of the Austree Enterprise PTY Ltd went to the Sol-Plaza building, Town Ground.
The complainant was accompanied by his finance manager and the Focus Security Service officers.
They went there purposely to tell Guo to vacate a room he resided in at the Sol-Plaza building based on a court order that the Austree Enterprise PTY Ltd is now taking over the China United.
Having arrived there and explained the purpose of their coming, the accused allegedly took a kitchen knife and pointed the knife at them.
Guo then allegedly threatened that he will kill anyone who attempts to enter his room.
The complainant and his group could not control the situation and therefore called a police patrol to the scene.
After about 10 minutes, the police officers arrived and advised both parties to leave and arranged that they talk over the issue the next day.
The prosecution however alleged that since Guo refused to talk over the issue, he was arrested and escorted to the Central Police Station.
Police Prosecutor Iete Tebakota appeared for the Crown on this matter.
Mali to take plea
The man accused of obtaining more than $9,800 from his girlfriend under false pretence will be taking his pleas on October 26.
David Mali, 28, appeared in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court and his matter was further adjourned to give time for his lawyer to obtain instructions for pleas.
Clifton Ruele of Public Solicitor’s Office is representing Mali who faces 12 counts of false pretence.
Police Prosecutor Iete Tebakota said Mali was supposed to take his pleas as the matter was adjourned from the last occasion for his lawyer to obtain instructions from him.
Ruele’s colleague Daniel Kwalai who appeared on his instructions confirmed that it was set for pleas yesterday.
However, he said Ruele did not obtain instructions as yet because he was engaged in a trial last week.
Mr Kwalai added that Ruele asked for another adjournment.
Principal Magistrate Ricky Iomea granted the application for an adjournment and further remanded Mali in custody.
Mali was accused of obtaining $9,870 from his girlfriend between 1 June 2016 and 5 July 2017.
Police alleged Mali met the complainant who is a nurse aid at the National Referral Hospital in June last year.
The complainant is based in the province but came to visit her sister at a ward at the hospital.
It was alleged that having met her, Mali introduced himself as Peter Mae and that he was a nurse at the National Referral Hospital.
From that day on, Mali allegedly continued asking the complainant for money which totalled to $9,870.
He told the complainant that the money was for a provincial tour and on other times said it was for their engagement or to build a house.
Having learnt that the accused never spent the money on those things he said he was to use it for, the complainant reported the matter to the police.
Committal hearing for rape accused
A possible committal hearing will be conducted next Monday on the case of two men accused of raping a woman way back in 2005 at Tulagi, Central Province.
Luke Kabu and John Pae who each face one count of rape appeared on Monday in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court.
The court yesterday heard that their lawyer Henry Kausimae of the Public Solicitor’s Office was supposed to indicate the type of committal hearing to be conducted on the matter.
Mr Kausimae however did not appear in court yesterday and his colleague Jenny Namo did not have instructions from him as well.
Public Prosecutor John Wesley Zoze who appeared on instruction of his advisor Mark Brennan said disclosures were already served to Mr Kausimae.
Principal Magistrate Ricky Iomea then adjourned the matter to October 23 for the defence to elect the type of committal hearing on this matter.
He said a committal hearing can be conducted on that date if the defence has already elected the type of committal hearing by then.
There are normally two types of committal hearing that are conducted on matters that are triable in the High Court, including rape charges.
A short form preliminary inquiry is one of the committal hearings.
This inquiry only requires documents containing evidences and other documents relevant to the matter to be tendered to the court.
A magistrate will then look through the documents and decided upon the evidences on the documents as to whether there is enough evidence to commit a particular matter to the High Court for trial.
In the event the magistrate finds insufficient evidence, the magistrate is likely to discharge the matter.
The other is a long form preliminary inquiry which requires witnesses to give evidence and a closing submission will be then made at the end of this inquiry.
The court will then give a ruling as to whether it finds sufficient evidence to commit the matter to the High Court or if he finds insufficient evidence it is likely he will discharge the matter.