Fijian Men Convicted For Murder On Boat In Tuvalu

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Verbal abuse allegedly lead to beating death of Chinese engineer

By Mary Rauto

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 23, 2012) – Two iTaukei men from Fiji were convicted by the High Court in Tuvalu for murder while a third was acquitted.

Epeli Yasava Kamikamica, Samuela Dolesau and Taniela Gaunavou were crew members onboard a Fiji registered fishing vessel K Camelia.

The court heard the men resented the manner in which the Chinese chief engineer acted.

On April 14 last year, on the day he was killed, the chief engineer swore at the men's mothers in the iTaukei language.

Justice Gordon Ward said earlier that day, Kamikamica was drinking with others including some crew members of a vessel from Papua New Guinea and had consumed a substantial amount of wine and spirits. He said Dolesau joined the drinking party at lunch time while Gaunavou started the day by drinking with a Tuvaluan friend at the wharf from 5am to 10am.

Justice Ward said Gaunavou went to look for the others after he woke up at 5pm.

The court heard Kamikamica and Dolesau had with them a partly consumed carton of wine which they finished at the wharf.

There Gaunavou went to the ship to collect their food, which had for some time consisted of nothing but boiled rice and bait fish.

Justice Ward said the Fijians resented the fact that they were being fed with bait fish while the Chinese crew members and the captain were fed better food.

The first and second accused complained about the food to the captain, who was in the wheelhouse, and also enquired when they would return to Fiji.

Meanwhile, the chief engineer arrived and demanded to know why the accused were in the wheelhouse.

He told them to leave and swore at them.

Justice Ward said as the chief engineer left the ship and went to his motorcycle, Kamikamica followed him and slapped him on the head and he came off his motorcycle.

Before Dolesau's involvement, the chief engineer fell to the ground, where he was kicked and stamped on by the two men.

Justice Ward said the victim was seen to be trying to protect his head at first but, as the kicks continued, he lay motionless on his back with his eyes open.

Kamikamica was able to break free from the crowd that stopped the attack and threw the chief engineer's motorcycle into the sea.

Both men gave evidence and admitted the attack, saying they did not intend to kill the chief engineer.

Gaunavou told the court he went in to stop the attack.

Justice Ward said Gaunavou described how Kamikamica and Dolesau were on opposite sides of their victim and, in order to stop them, he stood with a foot on either side of the deceased and pushed both defendants away.

Justice Ward found Gaunavou not guilty of murder and acquitted him.

The defense counsel said the two men were provoked.

"The test for the court is to measure the effect of the provocation by the effect it would have on a reasonable man," Justice Ward said.

"It is quite clear that neither of these men fitted that description at the time of this attack. Both were drunk.

"No doubt the drink made them more susceptible to insult and more likely to take offence but that is not the test.

A reasonable man is not a drunken man.

"I do not accept that the sort of offensive comment and conduct by the chief engineer that evening would be such as to deprive a reasonable man of the power of self-control even if, as I accept was the case here, he had repeatedly suffered similar unpleasant treatment from the deceased for a considerable time previously and had a degree of accumulated resentment."

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