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September 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Estonian national Risto Harmat is a free man.

Harmat was alleged to have taken Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara on May 8, 2011 for a fishing trip in Kadavu from where Mara was then allegedly picked up by a Tongan navy vessel.

Magistrate Mohammed Saneem said the prosecution had failed to establish an essential element of the offence and upheld the no case to answer submission by the defence.

He said no evidence has been produced of any rewards or benefits the accused was given to transport Mara to the Tongan Navy.

“There is no evidence that would show collusion. Neither has motive been established. The accused in his caution interview submits that it was a normal fishing trip and that they had caught some fish. Prosecution witnesses also confirm that the accused's boat was seen trolling on May 9, 2011.”

He said he found that the circumstantial evidence was more focussed on providing the escape of Mara.

Saneem said that from the prosecution evidence, he is unable to infer that the accused intended to obstruct, prevent or defeat the course of justice.

He also ordered that after the expiry of the appeal period, Harmat’s passport be released to him together with any bail bond paid.

The court also rejected an application for costs submitted by the defence lawyer Gavin O'Driscoll.

By Ropate Valemei

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