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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, June 30) - Two Marshall Islanders studying in Fiji are scheduled to go to court later this week on charges that they assaulted and robbed a Suva taxi driver.

But Marshall Islands Fiji Ambassador Mack Kaminaga said the case might be dismissed before it goes to trial.

He said the real story of what happened was not reflected in the robbery charges laid against the two University of the South Pacific students, Derick deBrum and Donson Heine. They were charged in April.

"Prior to the night they were arrested, Derick and Donson were in town (Suva) and upon their return to the USP campus by taxi, the taxi driver who was taking them had over-charged them $10," Kaminaga said. "On the night of the alleged incident the boys happened to be in a taxi with the same driver who had over-charged them as they were going back to USP. Upon their arrival on campus, the boys paid the driver 20 cents, advising him that since he had over-charged on the previous occasion they would only pay him that amount."

Kaminaga said as the boys left the taxi to make their way to their dormitory, "the taxi driver ran after them with a knife and started a fight with them, but the boys managed to escape from him."

Following this, the driver lodged a complaint with the police that the boys had robbed him of his watch and silver chain, Kaminaga said. The students were then picked up by police and taken into custody.

"Derick deBrum and Donson Heine never robbed the taxi driver," Kaminaga said. "Instead the taxi driver robbed them."

The ambassador said the two students had written to Fiji’s director of public prosecutions Joe Naigulevu stating what had happened on the night in question, and that Naigulevu could decide to dismiss the charges before the matter goes to court.

July 1, 2005

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