NO new trial date has been fixed yesterday on the case of Dr Reginald Aipia accused of catching and retaining beche-de-mer for export during the ban period.
This was because Chief Magistrate Emmanuel Kouhota, who was supposed to set down the date, was not available yesterday as he was reportedly sick.
Magistrate Augustine Aulanga adjourned the matter to December 1.
This is for Mr Kouhota to fix the date for the new hearing.
The first trial date was fixed to start early this month but was vacated because prosecution witnesses were not available.
Prosecution witnesses are in Lord Howe in Malaita Outer Islands but due to transport difficulty they were unable to arrive in time for the trial.
Aipia is facing one count of count of possession of beche-de-mer for export contrary to section (c/s) 13A of Fisheries Act.
This was in relation to an incident in 2013 at Lord Howe Islands, where he allegedly tried to export bags of mixed species of beche-de-mer weighing around 1,526.28 kilograms without lawful excuse.
Aipia’s case was remitted back to the Honiara Magistrates’ Court for re-trial after High Court stayed the orders of the magistrate who dismissed the charge against him.
A Honiara Magistrate earlier last year dismissed the charge against Aipia for having being instituted beyond six months after the alleged commissioning of the crime contrary to section 206 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
The magistrate made orders that Aipia’s case be discharged under section 190 (2) (b) (i) of the CPC and that the confiscated beche-de-mers be returned to him.
Wilson Rano of Rano & Company, who represented Aipia, had made the application to discharge his client on 31 October last year on grounds that the charge was filed beyond six months’ time limit.
Prosecution however, filed an application to stay and review the orders of the Magistrates’ Court.
Former judge, Justice Stephen Pallaras who heard the matter granted prosecution’s application and ordered that the magistrate’s orders be stayed until the review is heard.
He also stayed the orders of the magistrate’s ruling for the return of the products subjected to the charge seized by the officers of the Fisheries Department in condition with the police.
After reviewing the matter, Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer remitted the case back to the Magistrates’ Court for hearing by another magistrate.
Public Prosecutor Sirepu Ramosaea represents the State.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN