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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Patterson Saeni challenges murder conviction

A former policeman Patteson Saeni challenged his murder conviction in the Appeals Court yesterday, describing it as “unsafe, unsatisfactory and unreliable.”
The three Appeals Court judges are considering their decision.

Saeni’s lawyer, Gabby Brown, also said witnesses who gave evidence in the original trial last year had not clearly identified her client as the person who murdered the victim, Samani Ramo at Rove prison on November 26, 2000.

Ms Brown said the evidence, at a critical point, did not “identify anybody in any way.”Lord Slim, who headed the bench, then asked Ms Brown to clarify her position.
“Are you saying it is wrong in principle to string together bits of evidence, or that the bits in this case are not good enough?” he said.“The latter, my Lord,” Ms Brown replied.She said a case could be established through a string of evidence.But that had not happened in this case.

Ms Brown said that although the events which led to the charge had occurred in 2000, it was not until late 2003 that RAMSI asked witnesses what had happened.By then, their memories could have been “contaminated” by stories about those events, that were “going round.”

In July last year, the trial judge, Mr Justice Goldsborough, found Mr Saeni guilty both of Ramo’s murder and of assaulting Colin Hagi Junior.A former MEF commander, Jimmy Lusibaea, was also found guilty of assaulting Mr Hagi.The assault occurred at the Central Police Station.The crown opposed Mr Saeni’s appeal.

Crown counsel Terry Thorpe said Mr Goldsborough had an advantage the Appeal Court judges do not have, in assessing the evidence in this case.He had seen, heard and been able to assess the credibility of each of the witnesses who gave evidence in the original trial, which lasted 8 weeks.“It is not a matter for your honours to suggest your own views of the facts.“You have to show where the trial judge was in error,” Mr Thorpe said.

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