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Judicial CP - January 2008

Corpun file 19992


Fiji Times, Suva, 26 January 2008

Court orders cane and jail

By Mereseini Marau

A YOUNG man who robbed and violently attacked a tourist last year, causing him to lose the use of one eye, will get four strokes of the cane in addition to a 10-year jail term handed down by the Nadi Court.

His accomplice, a woman who watched from the sidelines, will serve three years behind bars.

A bench warrant is out for the third accomplice while the fourth suspect was acquitted.

Nadi Magistrate Syed Mukhtar Shah said he hoped the corporal punishment meted out to Joseph Christopher, 23, an engineer of Suva, would serve as a deterrent to those planning to commit serious crimes.

Christopher, Vinay Vishal, 30, and Mohammed Ifran, 22, were all charged with robbery with violence against English tourist Tim Buckhall. Christopher and Vishal were convicted while Ifran was acquitted of the crime. A bench warrant has been issued for the arrest of Vishal.

Nazrin Nisha, 28, a canteen operator, had been talking to Mr Buckhall when he was attacked from behind. She was sentenced to three years in prison.

In court yesterday, Mr Shah said he noticed that lengthy jail terms did not seem to deter people from committing serious crimes. He said corporal punishment for serious offences was recommended in the Penal Code and magistrates could order for it when they felt that the offence was very serious.

He added that corporal punishment would be subject to confirmation by the High Court.

"For the 17 years I have been sitting on the Bench, I have never seen such an offence which is as serious as this one.

"This is the worst of the robbery with violence cases that I have come across where the victim suffered multiple fractures on his face and skull and a loss of an eye," Mr Shah said.

As a result of the attack, Mr Buckhall, a hot air balloon pilot by profession, lost his left eye and suffered multiple fractures to his skull and face. He was also unable to practise his profession because of the loss of sight in one eye. Mr Shah said tourists also wanted to enjoy the night life in Fiji. Instead of being assisted, he said, Mr Buckhall was abused in a violent way, which culminated to a very serious injury.

"The offence of robbery with violence is prevalent in Fiji nowadays and it is the duty of the court and me as a magistrate to pass a sentence which reflects the gravity of the offence."

Mr Shah said the "fundamental principle of criminal law is to protect the community from such horrendous action of a few." And he reiterated that his court would come down hard on anyone committing serious offences.

On May 15 last year, Mr Buckhall was crossing the road in Martintar to go to a bar when he met Nisha. While he was talking to her, he was attacked from behind and lost his watch, mobile phone and money, all worth $620. When Mr Buckhall came to, he was at the Lautoka Hospital. A taxi driver found him unconscious on the pavement outside the bar and took him to hospital.

Mr Buckhall did not know who his attackers were but they were identified by a man who was robbed by the group afterwards. The victim saw blood on their shoes and the police linked them to the Buckhall case. The prosecution called 11 witnesses.

Copyright 2008, Fiji Times Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 20007


Fiji Times, Suva, 28 January 2008

Stroke of cane still valid: Director

THE magistrate that sentenced an offender to be stroked by cane probably made the order because the punishment was still valid in the Penal Code, Human Rights Director clarified yesterday.

Doctor Shaista Shameem said she presumed that Magistrate Sayed Mukhtar Shah had made the order because the punishment was still valid in the Penal Code.

The stroke of the cane sentence issued by the Nadi court on Friday had astounded some readers, who queried whether the punishment was still used in Fiji.

She said the magistrate would have been following the proper process because the punishment was still valid.

Dr Shameem acknowledged she made the submission before Justice Jayanti Prakash in 2002 on the grounds that it contravened section 25 (1) of the constitution that addresses the right to freedom from torture.

And Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

She said the Law Reform Commission had the powers to make amendments to the Penal Code.

It was reported that Joseph Christopher, 23, of Suva was jailed by the court and ordered four strokes of the cane when he was convicted for robbery with violence.

Copyright 2008, Fiji Times Limited. All Rights Reserved.

blob Follow-up: 16 February 2008 - Caning order thrown out

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