In Court with Assumpta - Solomon Star News

In Court with Assumpta

09 March 2021

* One link Pacifica appealed magistrate’s bail ruling 
* Bail granted to 3 alleged gold robbers
* Court dismisses Myanmar national’s application to be released

One link Pacifica appealed magistrate’s bail ruling



One Link Pacifica director, Gerrad Tauohu had filed his appeal at the High Court against a magistrate’s ruling regarding his bail application that did not go in his favour.

Ronald Dive of Ron Law who represents Tauohu filed the appeal at the High Court after the mention of his client’s case yesterday at the Honiara Magistrate’s Court.

When his client’s matter was mentioned yesterday morning he informed the court he will file the appeal after the court proceeding.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea having heard this was of the view for the substantive matter to proceed in the Honiara Magistrate’s Court while waiting for the outcome of the appeal hearing.

Dive, however, was of the view for this matter to be stayed in the Honiara Magistrate’s Court while they wait for the outcome of the appeal hearing.

He said that this is the very reason why they appealed the magistrate’s ruling because he had no opportunity to get proper instructions from his client on the substantive matter.

He stated that his client is on remand and the delay will be as to proceed with the substantive matter or that they found it difficult to proceed or deal with the substantive matter as it involves bulk documents, unless or until Tauohu is released on bail.

Iomea had refused the fourth bail application made for Tauohu last month as the grounds submitted by his lawyer is not sufficient to grant him bail.

Dive had submitted in the bail application that due to the restriction on the legal visit at the Rove Correctional Facility that he was unable to visit his client and take proper instruction,

He had stated that as a result of this, it will have an impact on the administration of the case as Tauohu would not have the opportunity to be instructed and explained the allegations against him.

Dive further submitted that the only avenue he can take instructions as allowed by the Correctional facility is through Teleconference but that is not reliable given the charge of false pretence against his client involves a lot of documents.

Iomea, however, had ruled that Tauohu is a teacher by profession and if he is provided with copies of the documents and charges he might take time to read and understand the allegations he faces as well as in preparation for any teleconference with his lawyer.

Tauohu is due in court again on March 22.

He is facing 38 counts of false pretence and one count of operating an unlicensed Financial Institution. 

This followed the complaints of five One Link Pacifica mentors who had paid more than $461,000 between December 2019 and February 2020 in the scheme.

The money belongs to One Link customers.

One Link customers were advised through the mentors by One Link directors to invest in the scheme and that they will be paid triple the amount they pay in a month’s time.

Tauohu, however, allegedly failed to repay One Link’s customers their money with its interest and escaped to Malaita last year.

Police arrested him last April and charged him after receiving complaints from the scheme’s mentors and customers who are yet to receive their money.

Public Prosecutor Jonathan Auga is prosecuting.


Bail granted to 3 alleged gold robbers


THREE of the nine men accused of robbing gold bars and $140,000 in cash from a mining camp in Guadalcanal last December have been granted bail last Friday.

Principal Magistrate Felix Hollison had granted each of them a cash bail of $4,000 attached with strict bail conditions.

A check to the Honiara Magistrate’s Court yesterday confirmed that only Watson Tabaliau and Samo Kabolo had paid their total cash bail of $8,000 and were now released on bail.

The third accused Samson Sake is still in custody as he is yet to pay his cash bail.

The prosecution had objected to the bail applications made by these three accused based on the submissions and sworn statements of various Police Investigating officers.

Public Prosecutors Samuel Tovosia and Vernon Taupongi had submitted that the three accused pose an unacceptable risk of failing to appear in court and pose an unacceptable risk of interfering with witnesses and the administration of justice.

They also relied on the sworn statement of various police investigating officers who stated that Sake had been hiding from the Police at the time of his arrest.

It was heard in court that the officers stated that Kabolo was already hiding from Police when he was arrested and that Tabaliau might escape and interfere with other potential witnesses in town.

The prosecution had submitted that pieces of evidence in these present cases are highly credible and clearly established the elements of the offence of robbery.

The prosecution also submitted that it has strong evidence implicating the three accused as part of the nine accused that took part in the offending that led each of them to be arrested and charged for robbery.

The prosecutors further stated that there are five admissions made by all the accused and very strong direct and circumstantial evidence is with them which implicated the three accused in this matter.

They further added that there is a risk that if the applicants are released they can interfere with Crown witnesses and interfere with Police’s effort to retrieve the stolen items and money unlawfully obtained during the alleged offending.

Magistrate Hollison, however, said to say that there were five admissions made without actually giving any evidence is at this best assuming.

“On the other hand, and in their quest to ameliorate the risks and militate against the potential threats pointed out by the Crown, the defendants/applicants stated that they have sureties and that they are willing to attend the court sessions if they are released on bail,” Magistrate Hollison said in his ruling.

He said the three accused had also clearly stated their proposed residences and places where they would reside.

“The imposition of reasonable cash bail in my considered view should also mitigate the risks pointed out by the Crown.

“The case authorities in this jurisdiction are very clear that a bail application is not about the guilt of the defendants but rather it is about the risks associated with the granting of bail and therefore should not be unreasonably withheld.”

Magistrate Hollison said there is no evidence to show that the three accused are likely to commit any crime, abscond, and or interfere with Crown witnesses and the ongoing investigations which may affect the proper administration of justice.

“In essence, the defendants are still presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

After considering the documentations filed and submissions by both parties, Magistrate Hollison said was not satisfied that the prosecution has proven on the requisite standard that the three accused are likely to commit, abscond, fail to appear in court or interfere with the Crown’s potential witnesses in the event that bail is granted for each of them.

He then granted bail for the three accused.

The three men and their co-accused Ken Anilava, Harrison Ramo, Olson Seda, Martin Maelifanua, Norman Garnita and Greg Hurainima are facing various charges including armed robbery and impersonating a police officer.

They were charged in relation to the alleged armed robbery which occurred in the early hours of 9th December 2020 at Winwin mining camp in northeast Guadalcanal.

The prosecution alleged the men entered the mining camp in a G-plated land cruiser and robbed two gold bars, $140,000 in cash and 15 mobile phones.

So far only two mobile phones have been recovered, the court previously heard.

All men are due back in court on March 11.

The Public Solicitor’s Office is representing five of the accused while Private Lawyers Ben Etomea and Joseph Iroga represent Sake, Tabaliau and Kabolo.


Court dismisses Myanmar national’s application to be released


A HONIARA magistrate has dismissed the application to release a Myanmar national who is detained at the Rove Detention facility since last August waiting to be deported back to his country.

Principal Magistrate Augustine Aulanga said he dismissed this application because it is an abuse of the court’s process.

“The abuse of process here is the filing of the matter at the Magistrate’s Court being the wrong court to hear the application,” Magistrate Aulanga said.

He said it must be understood that the case of the applicant had already gone passed the Detention Order stage.

He added that if it is still at the detention stage then his court is empowered to deal with this matter under section 40 (1) of the Immigration Act 2012.

“However, this matter, as earlier stated, had already reached the deportation stage as a result of the order made by the minister.

“Hence, section 32 (3) (a) of the Immigration Act 2012 is clear in this regard that only the High Court has the power to hear any grievance arising out of or in the connection to that Deportation Order,” Aulanga further added.

It was heard that Aung Win Naing from Myanmar had overstayed in the country without a valid visa and had been detained at the Rove Detention facility since last August.

It was also heard that the Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration Clezy Rore had made a deportation order for Naing pursuant to section 31 (1) © of the Immigration Act 2012 on 18 August 2020.

The lawyer representing Naing had stated that Naing was detained at Rove since August 2020 and the Deportation Order was issued without any hearing before a Principal Magistrate.

 William Jonga of Whitlam K Togamae Lawyers had stated that because of this procedural anomaly or impropriety, he should be released on bond.

Magistrate Aulanga ruled that whilst the court sympathises with Naing, unfortunately, there is nothing the Magistrate’s Court can make to address or vindicate this claimed predicament.

“Any grievance of the Deportation Order as a result of any statutory non-compliance or lack of natural justice is a matter that ought to be raised before the High Court by way of judicial review.

“As the circumstances of this case require, this court is precluded from hearing this matter by operation of section 32 (3) (a) of the Immigration Act 2012.

Aulanga then said he is of the view that this application is ill-considered and unmeritorious.

He said it should not be filed at the Honiara Magistrate’s Court in the first place if careful attention is paid to the Immigration Act 2012 by Naing’s lawyer.

“It is pertinent to raise here that a good number of our citizens or foreigners living in the Solomon Islands are illiterate and lacked understanding of the basic court processes and procedures.

“Hence, it is incumbent upon every lawyer in the legal profession to provide the best legal advice to those whom they present.”

He further added that “lawyers are professionals and they expect to discharge their duties and responsibilities with utmost care and attention.

“They should not take advantage of impecunious litigants and profit from representing them by filing mischievous and unmeritorious applications or claims that have no prospect of success at all in court.”

Patricia Taki from the Attorney General represented the Immigration Division.