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Defense objects to transfer of Freesoul matter

September 29, 2021 4:30 pm
[File Photo]

The defense lawyer for Freesoul Real Estate Development has objected to transferring the matter to the High Court for sentencing.

The State made the transfer application last week as the maximum fine for the offense is $750,000 and prosecutors are seeking a fine from $450,001 to $750,000 given the level of harm caused by the unauthorized development.

Freesoul Real Estate Development has been convicted of carrying out unauthorized development on Malolo Island earlier this year.

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The company was charged with three counts of undertaking unauthorized development and failure to comply with a prohibition notice.

It carried out work on dry land at Wacia and Qelelawa on Malolo Island without an approved Environment Impact Assessment Report in 2017.

The Suva Magistrate’s Court found the company guilty of two counts of undertaking the unauthorized development, but not guilty of failure to comply with a prohibition notice.

The State has submitted that given the substantial amount in the quantum range, the Magistrate could only issue a fine of $15,000 and thus the need to transfer the matter to High court.

The defense this afternoon argued that the level of permanent or temporary damage, according to the Damage Assessment Report is between three to eleven percent.

It also submitted that based on the report, the majority of the damage will self-restore and that since the court is at the sentencing stage, it cannot be remitted to the High Court.

The matter has been adjourned to tomorrow.

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