Five prosecution witnesses testified yesterday against Ronald Vudui and Jackson Willie, the duo accused of murdering late Maraki Robson last year in June.
The first witness was Emma Tetak, the girlfriend of the deceased. She testified in court that on the night of 23 June 2017, while at work, she was informed by one her workmates that her boyfriend, late Maraki called. She then returned Maraki’s call and he told her that he would come for her at work.
Emma told Maraki that he should not come as its weekend and they were usually very busy on weekends. He however, raised his voice over the phone and insisted that he must come to the Saloon Bar to which she finally agreed.
According to the witness, she saw Maraki inside the bar somewhere at around 11:45pm. He was with an uncle of his. Emma said she observed Maraki was normal when she first saw him, but after several drinks he was starting to get drunk so she told him to stop, but he continued to order more drinks.
She confirmed Maraki remained in the bar until the lights were turned on and that, she explained indicated that the bar was closing so customers had to leave. Emma said Maraki remained despite being told to leave the bar. He finally left the bar and went outside. Outside the bar, he started calling out his girlfriend’s name.
The witness then told one of her friends to ask Vudui if she could leave and join her boyfriend who was drunk. When she went outside, they were still within the premises of the bar.
Emma said her deceased boyfriend kicked her so hard on her chest that she cried and ran immediately back inside the bar.
Inside the bar, she told one of her workmates that she wanted them to drop her off because her boyfriend kicked her. Vudui then asked what happened and she told him that her boyfriend assaulted her.
Tetak said Vudui asked where Maraki was and someone answered him and Tetak heard Ronald asking for their vehicle’s keys.
She testified that she did not see the truck took off but from the sound of the engine, she was sure it took off at a high speed.
Shortly after that she heard the truck returned. She was still at her same spot. Emma said she never saw Maraki after that and did not go outside the bar to check on Maraki. She said she asked one of the staff who was on the truck where they caught up with Maraki and was told that they caught Maraki at the road to Ramada.
Ronald then handed Maraki’s phone and told her that Maraki has missed his phone, she told the court.
Police arrived at the scene and requested her to give her statement to which she responded that she did not want to make any statement but instead asked the officer to drop off Maraki at his home.
She told the court that after they left Saloon Bar, they went to First Bucket nakamal with Ronald and Jackson but the name of Maraki was not brought up.
On June 24, sometime between 9am and 10am, she learnt from her dad that her boyfriend died.
During Cross examination, Emma confirmed it was the first time he was seen so drunk. She also confirmed the deceased kicked her hard on her chest with his brown heavy boots.
She agreed that the staff of War Horse Saloon were concerned because a week earlier one of their own female staff was murdered by her boyfriend.
She confirmed she stopped working at the Saloon Bar after the incident.
The second prosecution witness was David Aru of Ambae. He was the barman at the night of the incident. Aru confirmed that night he served the deceased with tuskers only. He recalled he spoke with Maraki that night who told him that he was waiting for his girlfriend who was working.
This witnessed confirmed he was the one who told Maraki to leave the bar and to wait for his girlfriend outside as it was already time for customers to leave the bar. He confirmed Maraki was drunk but he walked outside by himself without any support.
He told the court he did not see anything unusual happen after that but saw Emma ran back inside the bar and he confirmed he saw Vudui drove off with Willie, the other defendant and two other male staff.
Aru said he believed the staff reacted because of the tragic incident involving one of their staff a week earlier.
Less than 10 minutes later, the truck returned, according to Aru’s testimony. He said he saw Willie rinsing his hands with ice cubes and said words to the effect of, “Mi no mekem olsem longtime.”
Aru then left the bar and went outside. He told the court that he had no idea that there was someone at the back of the truck. He was standing near the truck when he said he heard someone was breathing heavily from the back of the truck. He took out his phone and shone the light at the back of the truck and saw garbage bags. He removed one garbage bag and saw Maraki lying down, facing upwards.
His face, nose and mouth were covered with thick blood. At that same moment, the police truck commonly known as the ‘cage’ arrived. Two officers then removed the injured Maraki from the back of the truck and placed him at the back of the police vehicle.
Aru said he told the officers to drive Maraki directly to the hospital as he was not in a good state. He confirmed he did not speak to Vudui nor Willie after that night.
During cross examination, he said the police officers placed Maraki gently onto the cage. He also confirmed that there were four of them standing near the truck when he shone the torch at Maraki’s bloodied face.
Max Taleo was the third prosecution witness. Taleo was drinking at the bar on the night of June 23 and into the early hours of June 24 when the bar closed. He confirmed he knew Maraki but that night he did not see Maraki at the bar.
He told the court that as he left the bar and was walking towards the DHL warehouse, he heard a woman scream and when he turned to the direction where the scream came from, he saw a man beat a woman. He shouted at the man saying, “why are you hitting a woman?” and saw the woman got up and ran. He then crossed over to where the man was to talk to him, but the guy took flight. Taleo tried chasing him, but he was too fast for him.
This witness said he kept on walking and when he was at the ABM Gas station at Number 3, Vudui pulled over and asked if he saw a guy running that direction. Vudui told him that the guy assaulted one of their female staff.
Taleo responded that he chased a guy who hit a woman but the guy was too fast. However, some people who were walking on the road told them that they saw a guy running in the direction towards Ramada. Vudui then left and drove towards the Ramada road.
The truck then returned shortly and Vudui stopped and told Taleo to hop onto the truck. He said he saw garbage bags as well as two other men at the back of the truck. This witness confirmed he did not speak to any of the two men. He confirmed he did not see anyone else apart from the two men at the back of the truck.
When they reached the Saloon Bar, he jumped off the truck and went to join another friend of his. He confirmed he saw the police truck and he was aware there was a fight at the bar earlier.
The two final witnesses who testified in court yesterday were Jason Vira and Jonas Mahit. According to their testimonies, they were with Maraki at a kava bar at Beverly Hills on the night of June 23 and they made plans to go clubbing.
They walked from Beverly Hills to town and went their separate ways from there. Maraki went to Saloon Bar. Before the two witnesses entered Vodoo Night Club, they received a call from Maraki who told them to go and see him at the Saloon Bar.
They met Maraki at the bar and stayed at Saloon Bar until the club closed. They went outside with Maraki and waited for his girlfriend. When the girlfriend came outside the bar, Maraki kicked her on her chest. They confirmed the girlfriend ran back inside and Maraki said to leave the girl and they kept on walking.
When they reached the DHL roundabout, the security and Vudui came and swore at Maraki. They told the deceased that they have already lost one of their staff recently. They were exchanging swear words, the witnesses said.
Maraki then started to run and the men chased him. That was the last they saw of Maraki, they said.
The security and Vudui then returned and while the two witnesses were walking, just passing the gate of the Public Works, the white Nissan truck came passed them. The truck was travelling at a very high speed, they confirmed.
One of the two witnesses said when they reached the Chinese shop some meters away from the entrance of Public Works, Jonas called Maraki’s phone twice. At their third attempt to reach Maraki, his phone was switched off.
They reached a Chinese garage when the truck returned, again, was travelling at a high speed.
During cross examination, Jason Vira said Maraki was angry and kicked his girlfriend because they had to wait again for his girlfriend outside.
During cross examination Mahit said that Maraki never said a word before assaulting his girlfriend.
Prosecution has a total of 14 witnesses altogether. The trial will continues. Six witnesses are expected to testify today.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST