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Severed feet spark major inquiry

Tuesday 28 June 2016 | Published in Regional

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FIJI – Interpol has been called to help police in Fiji investigate the discovery of body parts on a beach near Sigatoka.

The police’s Chief of Intelligence, Luke Navela, said that the international force will also help in trying to find a missing Russian couple whose vehicle was found in Natadola.

He says another body part was found in the vicinity and is being kept at the Nadi Hospital awaiting forensic tests.

Police divers have been directed to conduct another search.

Navela adds that at this point, police still can’t positively confirm if the discovery of the body parts and the two missing people are linked.

A pair of human feet, chopped off from the ankle, were found by a security officer about 200 metres from where the couple’s vehicle was found apparently abandoned on Friday afternoon.

Police are questioning other witnesses at Natadola who had seen the couple’s vehicle arrive there on Thursday afternoon.

Yuri Shipulin and his wife, Natalia, left their farm in the hills of Kachiquari, which is off a feeder road on the way to Nausori Highlands, in Nadi, sometime after midday last Thursday.

According to a police source, the couple were spotted a little later at Denarau Island having drinks.

Later that same afternoon, the couple’s grey metallic Toyota Land Cruiser was found at Natadola Beach with a punctured tyre, the doors unlocked and the keys still in the ignition.

Security officer Alipate Harilevu is employed by Sea Breeze Water Sports at Natadola Beach where he looks after their jet skis for hire.

Harilevu had just finished his shift when he saw the heavy surf pounding onto an object on the water’s edge.

On his inspection, he found the pair of feet, wrapped in green netting, similar to ones used for greenhouses, with about five stones inside, probably used as weight and tied together with fishing line.

The pair of feet reportedly belonged to a caucasian and had all the toes intact.

Police detectives arrived at the beach and after investigations took the body parts with them.

Afternoon shift workers spotted the couple’s vehicle arriving sometime after 5pm and driving to the far end of the beach on the day they disappeared.

It returned a short while later and parked at the spot where it was found later by the police.

Rupeni Tokavou, another security officer, began his shift at 7pm that night at the beach and noticed the vehicle parked there.

“The place was bright because of the moon,” he said. “We thought some people had come to party there, so we did not pay much attention.”

Later that night, as Tokavou and three other colleagues huddled around a fire they had lit, they noticed a fire too was lit near the vehicle.

“We saw a torch light later go near the water and returned.”

At about 3am on Friday morning, a man,who looked caucasian, walked past partially covering his face while speaking on a cellphone. - PNC