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Monday 2 May 2016 | Published in Regional


FIJI – An Australian man has been sentenced to 14 years’ jail in Fiji after being found guilty of possessing nearly 50 kilograms of cocaine.

Fiji police arrested Joseph Abourizk and a Fijian man near Lautoka in July last year and found several parcels of cocaine in the boot of the car they were travelling in.

The 30-year-old from Sydney has maintained his innocence but was found guilty of possessing illicit drugs by the country’s High Court last week.

Local reports say the judge said both men had little regard for the laws of Fiji.

Abourizk will be eligible for parole after serving 12 years.

The haul was estimated to have had a street value of $9.6 million, Fiji police said in a statement in July last year.

Abourizk’s lawyer, Iqbal Khan, said they will appeal the sentence and believe it has a strong prospect of success.

“The range of sentencing was a bit high because the degree of participation by this person was not that great,” he said.

Khan said Abourizk maintains his innocence.

The then assistant police commissioner and the service’s chief of investigations and intelligence, Henry Brown, said the two men were apprehended near the Vuda Point Marina in Lautoka with parcels of the drug found in their vehicle.

“Further investigations also resulted in the discovery of large amounts of Fijian and Australian currency from one of the suspects’ hotel rooms,” he said.

Brown said at the time that the seizure was executed following weeks of intelligence gathering through a joint effort between Fiji police, its revenue and customs authority, and Australian Federal Police.