SOLOMONS LAWMAKER FACES ANONYMOUS WITNESSES

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By Joy Rikimae

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, ) – Solomon Islands Member of Parliament Charles Dausabea will not know the identity of at least 10 prosecution witnesses who will be giving evidence against him.

This followed a landmark ruling yesterday by Magistrate John Myers.

Instead, the witnesses will give their evidence in seclusion of public eye.

Public prosecutor Michael McColm had asked the court to grant anonymity for 10 witnesses who are not comfortable giving their evidence in the public gallery.

He said these witnesses were only willing to give evidence against Mr Dausabea provided they will not appear in the witness box.

Mr Dausabea, the MP for East Honiara, is facing charges relating to the 18 April riots. He was accused of inciting the riot, threat and intimidation.

In the past weeks, a number of witnesses have come forward to give evidence in a preliminary inquiry held to determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to commit the matter to the High Court for trial.

Mr McColm said he had material evidence to support the witnesses seeking anonymity, except for two witnesses who would be using names such as "Hot Bread 1" and "Hot Bread 2".

One of the witnesses said in its statement that he/she did not what to be known because Mr Dausabea was a relative.

Despite strong opposition by defence lawyer Michael Pitakaka, the magistrate agreed to granting the witnesses anonymity.

He argued that the materials before the court does not justify the application for anonymity.

He said for the application to be granted, there has to be evidence of intimidation and harassment.

"It is also crucial that there must be evidence that intimidation and harassment are going to happen," Mr Pitakaka added.

He said the affidavits given by two of the witnesses does not disclose any evidence of threats or intimidation.

The defence lawyer said witnesses who are telling the truth should not have the fear to come forward and tell their story.

"Witnesses who wanted their identity concealed have something to hide," Mr Pitakaka said.

He insisted that there are no evidence that these witnesses have been harassed.

There was no evidence that they have been harassed.

He also told the court that his client needs to know who is giving evidence against him because of them have different motives.

His argument was however ignored as the next witness that gave evidence following the ruling yesterday, did so from within one of the High Court rooms.

The witness spoke through a microphone connected to the High Courts PA system.

September 27, 2006

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

 

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