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Three state witnesses take stand in drug trial

January 28, 2019 4:45 pm
Yvette and John Nikolic

Three state witnesses took the stand in the trial involving an Australian couple allegedly involved in drug-related offences.

Yvette and John Nikolic are alleged to have unlawfully imported illicit drugs, arms and ammunition in Denarau, Nadi last year.

First witness Kelemi Gukirewa who is a senior customs officer told the court that the system at the Naval base could not locate the vessel Shenanigans when it entered Fiji waters.

Gukirewa says the location of the vessel could have been possible if the automated identification system on the vessel was turned on.

He says he informed his manager which forced the officers to think that the vessel needed to be searched and looked into.

Second witness Mereoni Jikotani who is in the drugs and enforcement unit says on June 22nd the vessel was located in Denarau Nadi.

Jikotani says the owner of the Vessel John Nikolic had declared everything on a voluntary form but did not mention about the arms and ammunitions, drugs and undeclared currency.

When cross examined by defence Jikotani told the court that in many cases when vessels were not located, the issue was with the automated identification system which was usually switched off.

Third witness Lisi Narruhn who is a boarding officer says she checked and verified details the captain had provided them.

She says when the search was conducted on the boat, drugs, arms and ammunitions and undeclared currency were retrieved.

She also told the court that she took pictures and compiled it for the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services.

The couple are jointly charged with two counts each of importing an illicit drug with two alternative counts of possessing an illicit drug.

They are also charged with a count each of possessing arms and ammunition without holding an arms license.

The couple was arrested after authorities seized 13 bricks of cocaine weighing 15 kilograms as well as 65 methamphetamine tablets with an estimated value of $30 million from their yacht.

Officials also found $15,000 in undeclared currency, two pistols and 97 rounds of live ammunition on board.

The trial continues tomorrow.