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The four Fijian navy sailors involved in the grounding of RFNS Kiro on 14 July 2016 will be sentenced next Friday.
The accused are Lieutenant Commander Saula Tuilevuka, Lieutenant Samuela Cikaitoga, Lieutenant Ben Salacakau and Ensign Michael Brown.
They appeared before the general court martial in its fifth session at the RFMF camp in Nabua this morning where Judge Advocate Lieutenant Colonel Jiten Singh delivered his sentencing remarks.
Lieuetenant Colonel Singh says the accused are convicted with the charge they’re accused with and the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment.
However, he has advised the court to consider the mitigation from the accused and their witnesses as well as the prosecutions sentencing remarks requesting for a lenient sentence.
The Judge Advocate highlighted the accused aggravating factors that as a result of their neglect, Kiro is no longer available meaning the Navy is now one vessel less.
Despite no lives lost and no injuries were sustained during the incident, the lives of the crew members were put at risk and because of their seniority, they were to set good examples for the juniors in rank.
He also highlighted the mitigating factors in that there were no casualties, the four pleaded guilty on their first hearing which saved the court’s time and they fully co-operated with the investigation.
Lieutenant Colonel Singh also advised the court to consider Lieutenant Cikaitoga’s mitigation about his experience during TC Winston in February that year being the Commanding Officer of Kiro managed to prevent the vessel from capsizing in the midst of a category five cyclone in the bligh waters.
The Judge Advocate says this clearly shows a huge testimony to his capabilities.
He also advised the court to consider Ensign Brown as he’s still young and was only posted to work on the vessel on the day of the incident as a replacement.
Court has been adjourned to 20 July for sentencing.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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