Former RSIPF traffic director to appear tomorrow

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BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

PRINCIPAL Magistrate Augustine Aulanga has adjourned the case against Solomon Habatia to tomorrow to allow for the defence lawyer to appear in court.

Yesterday both the prosecution and defence submitted their sentencing and mitigation submission, however the lawyer representing the accused did not turn up because he was sick.

A lawyer from the Public Solicitor’s Office who appeared on instruction of his colleague told the court that he cannot further assist the court with regards to other issues.

Public Prosecutor Freliz Fakari said that adjourning the case to Thursday is fine to allow the defence to submit his view in terms of sentencing the accused first before waiting for the outcome of the application at the High Court.

The accused, after he was convicted, appealed his conviction, however that application is yet to be heard.

This is the case of Charles Solomon Habatia a former traffic director who was charged and tried for one count of conversion, contrary to section 278 (1) (c)(i) of the Penal Code.

After his conviction by the Magistrate Court his defence lawyer appealed Habatia’s conviction to the High Court and thus the Magistrate Court is waiting on the decision of the High Court before can proceed on in sentencing Mr Habatia.

His case is in relation to an incident occurred n 2016 when he was the Operation Manager for Honiara city and by virtue of his position, he was responsible for the formulation, coordination and management of police operations of various departments or units in the Honiara city.

Before June 2016, he applied for Solomon Islands government money in a form of special imprest of $24,000 from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury. The application was approved and the money was raised and paid to the defendant. It was purposely to fund police operations within the Honiara city.

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Prosecution in their allegation said that he did not use the whole of the $24,000 for the police operations. Instead, he fraudulently converted and used part of it for his own benefit. This occurred from June 3 to August 31, 2016.

The prosecution said the accused retired the money in a spreadsheet and attached a number of receipts obtained from individuals and business entities.

In the imprest retirement, he outlined certain transactions for various police operations under different departments like; the Liquor Unit, Criminal Response Unit and Naha Police.

However, the Heads of these departments were not aware of such engagement or transactions. Those receipts in the prosecution’s case were false.

They were produced by the defendant to deceive the Solomon Islands government in the retirement of the money.

Meanwhile the defendant denied the fraudulent conversion of the money. He remained silent and called no evidence for his case.

He ardently emphasised in his closing submission that he did not receive the money at all and further denied any wrong doing on his part.

He argued that there was no evidence to prove the allegation and therefore, he should be acquitted.

But the court found him guilty after the trial was conducted and convicted him as charged.

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