September 05, 2012
Savea in Fiji waters
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
A LOG entry made by a boat captain last May was signed in February after police asked him to.
This was heard as defence lawyer Gavin O'Driscoll cross-examined Sailasa Kaitani who took the witness stand in the trial against Estonian national Risto Harmat.
Mr Harmat pleaded not guilty to a count of obstructing to defeat the course of justice.
He is alleged to have assisted Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara escape to Tonga on May 9 last year.
Speaking in the iTaukei language, Mr Kaitani, the captain of Rabi 1, told the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday that at 10am on May 9, they were fishing a mile from Nabukalevu-i-Ra in Kadavu when villagers came to their boat.
Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer Mosese Korovou asked Mr Kaitani if he could see the Cape Washington lighthouse.
He said yes and added he also saw two other boats — a white fiberglass boat and a naval ship.
Mr Kaitani said the first boat came from the direction of Nagigia Island Resort towards the light house.
He said at 4pm, they started their engine to go fishing when they saw the naval vessel and that it was not a Fiji vessel.
He said they approached the vessel until they were asked to stop via a very high frequency (VHR) radio and were about 80 metres apart.
Mr Kaitani said those onboard the naval vessel said they came because they received a distress call.
He said they did not make a distress call, after which the naval vessel said they were heading to Vanuatu.
Mr Kaitani said as the vessel left, they saw Savea written on it.
He said the naval vessel followed in the direction of the fiberglass boat.