Cokanauto allowed to appeal conviction

The Court of Appeal has allowed Jezreel Lion of Judah church leader Jone Cokanauto to appeal his conviction.

Cokanauto was jailed for 20 years in 2017 after he was convicted of five counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and four counts of indecent assault.

The appeal that has succeeded in court was based on charges that were laid on him under Fiji’s Penal Code and “were not saved and/or transitioned by sections 391, 392 and 393 of the Crimes Act”.

“I think that given the wider consequences of the appellant’s objection based on the interpretation of section 391, 392 and 393 of the Penal Code that could be felt far beyond this case,” Justice Chandana Prematilaka said in his June 9 ruling.

“It is better that the full court of the Court of Appeal rules on the appellant’s argument, including as to whether the appellant should have raised it before pleading to the information in respect of counts 1-4 and 6-10 rather than waiting till the end of the prosecution case to be taken up as part of no case to answer submission.”

Justice Prematilaka stated this ground of appeal can go to the full court hearing as “a pure question of law and technically no leave to appeal is required”.

“Nevertheless, I do not think that it has a reasonable prospect of success or consequently a very high likelihood of success.”