Caution interview admissible in unlawful burial trial

January 16, 2024 12:36 pm

The trial for Ruci Kalokalo and Laisiasa Rokobici, accused of unlawfully burying their 7-year-old daughter in Toko, Tavua three years ago, is set to begin next Monday.

The couple is charged with manslaughter and Restriction of Burial of Dead Bodies.

They will be representing themselves during the trial.

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In the Lautoka High Court today, State lawyer Saini Naibe questioned Corporal Tomasi Nacabecuva of the Criminal Investigation Department who conducted the caution interview of Rokobici.

Naibe questioned whether Rokobici reported threats, assaults, sickness, or injuries before, during, and after the caution interview on March 22, 2021, at the Tavua Police Station.

Corporal Nacabecuva clarified that Rokobici showed no signs of physical harm.

Questions also arose about false promises during the interview.

Corporal Nacabecuva denied any such allegations.

The voluntary nature of Rokobici’s responses and breaks during the interview were stated by Corporal Nacabecuva highlighting that the accused willingly provided information and received adequate breaks as required.

Crucially, it was confirmed by Corporal Nacabecuva that Rokobici was not coerced into signing the caution interview.

When given the opportunity by High Court Judge Justice Aruna Aluthge to cross-examine Corporal Nacabecuva, Rokobici declined but expressed gratitude to Justice Aluthge for his wisdom and acknowledged the police officers for fulfilling their duties.

With no challenge against the caution interview, Justice Aluthge ruled the evidence as admissible.

The state is set to call upon 14 witnesses and submit a pathologist’s report as the trial proceeds.

It is alleged that between December and February 2021, the couple made an omission that amounted to a negligent breach of duty, by not taking their 7-year-old child to the hospital for medical attention which allegedly resulted in her death.

For the second count of Restriction of Burial of Dead Bodies, the two are alleged to have buried the body of their daughter without a certificate of death in the forms prescribed by the Registrar General by regulation under the Births, Death and Marriages Registration Act in the register of that body signed by a Medical Practitioner.

According to information gathered by the Police, the victim was sick for three months but was never taken for medical treatment as it was against their religious beliefs.