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SUVA, Fiji (The Fiji Times/PINA, Mar. 12) - A well known Fiji village is determined to maintain a crime-free image and will expel villagers or visitors known to be engaged in criminal activities.

The villagers of Namoli, located adjacent to the city of Lautoka, have been angered by claims that a recent violent robbery suspect hails from the village.

Village spokesman, Joji Satala said the practice in the village is that anyone caught committing a crime or accused of any wrongdoing is questioned by the headman.

"If there is something really serious and it is the first offence, the parents are warned about the future of the person in the village," he said. "If they repeat the offence, they are sent away from the village."

Satala spoke out after Epi Batirerega, who appeared in Lautoka Magistrate’s Court recently for his alleged involvement in violent robberies, told police that he lived at Namoli village.

Satala denied that Batirerega was from Namoli.

"We are unhappy about recent media reports stating that crime suspects are from Namoli, in particular in the case of Epi Batirerega," he said.

"He lives in Waiyavi and he used to come to Namoli Village to visit his friends only.

"There are certain rules in the village about anyone committing any crime."

Satala said the village was trying to create a good image by engaging its youths in sports, in particular rugby, which the Namoli team is renowned for.

The Namoli rugby team is one of the strongest in the Lautoka club competition each year.

"We don’t have anyone in the village who is in trouble with the law," said Satala.

"Epi Batirerega is not from Namoli. He only came on a few occasions to visit his friends."

Satala said the man would no longer be allowed into the village because people were upset with his claims.

He said the villagers always met when someone from the village was accused of committing a crime.

"From now on, we will not allow crime suspects claiming to be from Namoli to come to the village, irrespective of whether they are only visiting friends or relatives," Satala said.

"People not living in the village are tarnishing our village’s name by giving Namoli as their address for reasons we don¹t know."

March 13, 2003

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