Katonibau takes stand

Former national 7s rep, Amenoni Nasilasila leaves the High Court in Lautoka after his court hearing this week. Picture: SITERI SAUVAKACOLO

ISAKE Katonibau was on his way back to Suva from Nadi on December 23, 2018 when his driver informed him that Amenoni Nasilasila had been taken into police custody at the Sigatoka Police Station.

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces lieutenant revealed this in the High Court in Lautoka yesterday as he was called in as the lone defence witness in the trial of Mr Nasilasila who is facing one count of rape.

Lt Katonibau told the court that Mr Nasilasila made the cut into the Fiji 7s team as a very young lad and he was there to mentor him and this was how their close relationship started.

The court was told that he found out upon reaching Sigatoka Police Station that Mr Nasilasila had been charged with the alleged rape of a 24-year-old flight attendant who was based in the United States.

Lt Katonibau said he advised Mr Nasilasila, as a brother, to stay strong, to pray and to let the truth prevail.

Lt Katonibau then revealed he later met the 24-year-old complainant and they both visited the police station again as she had wanted to withdraw the case, however, police said they could not accommodate her withdrawal request as they had already proceeded with the case.

The RFMF officer then told the court that the complainant and another cousin joined him and his driver for dinner and a few drinks on the same afternoon.

Their meeting ended around 9pm before he dropped them off at their home in Olosara, the place where the alleged rape incident had taken place a day before.

Dr Elizabeth Natasha Dass who had medically examined the complainant on the night of the alleged incident said there were no visible injuries on her body.

However, she said there were minor injuries around her private parts which she concluded at the time were signs of recent sexual activity.

When cross-examined by defence co-counsel Una Baleilevuka, Dr Dass admitted it was difficult to render from the findings whether the alleged sexual act was consensual or not as there were very little findings. In her closing submission, State lawyer Mehzabeen Khan informed the court that the State had submitted overwhelming evidence which proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Nasilasila was guilty of the offence of rape.

Ms Khan said the complainant was a reliable witness and she asked the assessors to take into consideration the fact that the complainant did not scream when the alleged incident took place as she was scared and she ran to the bathroom to lock herself up as things happened very quickly.

In his closing submission, defence lawyer Mark Anthony informed the three assessors to consider the fact that if the attack had taken place, the complainant would have sought help which she did not.

Mr Anthony added it was the complainant’s own choice to stay back with Mr Nasilasila at home in Olosara instead of accompanying her aunt to town on the day of the alleged incident.

He added there were plans by the complainant to meet Mr Nasilasila on the weekend of the alleged incident.

Mr Anthony concluded there were inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence during the trial. High Court judge Justice Daniel Goundar will deliver his summing up on the case tomorrow.

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