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11 November 2022

Man on probation seeks passport to visit ill father in Fiji

Wednesday 6 March 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National

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Man on probation seeks passport to visit ill father in Fiji

A 33-year-old Fijian citizen, Semesa Nalalakiwai, recently sentenced to 16 months’ probation with the first six months on community service, applied for his passport release to visit his ill father in Fiji.

However, Probation Services did not support his request.

The application, submitted through his lawyer Michelle Tangimama before Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro at the Avarua Criminal Court last Thursday, stemmed from Nalalakiwai’s conviction for two counts of assault on a female and wilful damage. He was also ordered to pay $5728.40 in damages to his wife for car damage.

His sentencing order included not to purchase or consume alcohol, not to enter liquor licensed premises except for his place of work, to attend counselling and workshops as directed by Probation, and not to leave the Cook Islands without the approval of the High Court.

Tangimama argued for the passport release due to Nalalakiwai’s father’s illness. She presented a letter stating that the 60-year-old father had been hospitalised and his health condition had deteriorated significantly since falling ill in December 2023.

Tangimama said her client plans to travel on March 11 and return from Fiji on March 25. She said there was no provision in regards to the passport being released but it was based on his sentencing.

However, a probation officer told JP Taoro that the applicant was sentenced a week ago and the release of his passport would be unfair on others. The officer further emphasised the need for a court order, travel documents, and a temporary suspension of probation terms with resumption upon his return.

JP Taoro said one of the conditions of his sentencing was not to leave the Cook Islands without the court’s approval, adding that was why an application needed to be made to the court.

Lawyer Norman George clarified that leaving the Cook Islands jurisdiction required a separate application to ensure Nalalakiwai’s return. He suggested a surety document signed by Nalalakiwai’s wife, with her assuming financial responsibility if he failed to return.

The matter was stood down, giving time for the applicant to get a proper medical letter.

Upon returning with a doctor’s certificate from Fiji, Tangimama requested an adjournment to review the document.

The hearing has been rescheduled for March 7.