Suva High Court Judge Justice Salesi Temo today ruled against the defence counsel’s application for the fourth witness to be excused from giving evidence in the trial of the Jezreel Lion of Judah Church leader Jone Cokanauto.
The witness, told the high court that she cannot give her testimony as her husband is related to Cokanauto.
55 year old Cokanauto is charged with 5 counts of rape, 1 count of attempted rape and 4 counts of indecent assault.
The Defense lawyer, Simione Valenitabua told the Court there was a similar situation in the Labasa High Court last month where the witness had requested not to give evidence in a rape trial as she was happily married and had forgiven the accused.
However , Justice Salesi Temo said that the Prosecution represents the public and has the right to bring the witnesses to court.
Justice Temo says the trial must continue with the fourth victim to give evidence in court.
The fourth witness who was emotional then took the stand to give evidence.
She claimed she was introduced to the prayer group by a friend and that she felt the spirit of God which was something she had never felt before in this group.
The witness stated that in 2006 she and her friends left school and went to Nadera because she wanted to be prayed over.
She says when she arrived at the house, Cokanauto gave them advice on their school work and on their spiritual life.
She claims they were then each called into the room.
The witness claims she was the second person to enter the room and saw Cokanauto seated on the bed wearing a vest and a sulu.
She says that she told Cokanauto her problems. He then consoled her, hugged her and prayed for her.
Later, she said she had to take off all her clothes so that Cokanauto could pray over her private parts to commit it to God.
The emotional witness stated she felt the need to be redeemed which she learned from one of Cokanauto’s sermon’s.
She says although she was naked before the pastor she had to go through the process as she believed that it needed to be done to regain her purity.
The witness claimed she believed this from Cokanauto’s sermon’s of the biblical story of the Samaritan Woman and if she gave her all to Jesus she would never be thirsty again.
She says based on sermon’s, she interpreted that Cokanauto represented Jesus and Cokanauto’s semen is the water of life that would cleanse her and redeem her.