Drugs trial takes heavy toll on Nikolics
LIFE in a Fiji prison and a High Court trial appears to be taking a heavy toll on accused Aussie drug smugglers Yvette and John Nikolic, as both continue to lose weight and become increasingly gaunt.
And the trial looks set to drag on, with just 10 of the prosecution's 17 witnesses having given evidence since the trial in Suva started on January 27.
The prosecution has previously flagged it may even add to its current witness list.
News Corp has been told conditions in the Suva remand centres the Nikolics are imprisoned in are appalling, with poor sanitation, bad food and unhygienic living conditions.
It comes as another Fiji customs officer took the witness stand on Monday to say John Nikolic took sole responsibility for the cocaine stash found on the yacht Shenanigans when it was raided at Denarau Marina on June 22 last year.
Investigation officer with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) Niko Rokodranu said he heard John Nikolic say the rest of the crew on Shenanigans and his wife Yvette knew nothing about the drugs on the boat.
Thirteen bars of cocaine, ecstasy tablets, unlicensed weapons and US$15,000 in $100 bills were found by Fiji authorities on Shenanigans when the yacht was raided and the Nikolics have been on remand in Fiji prisons for about seven months.
They have pleaded not guilty to charges of drug importation, drug possession and weapons offences.
Self-confessed "newbie" sailors, the Nikolics picked up experienced crew as they made their epic, six month journey from Florida, to Colombia, through Panama and across the Pacific to Fiji.
A senior officer with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service has told the High Court John Nikolic said during the raid on Shenanigans "a Colombian" had put something in a bag on the yacht and he owed "some dangerous people a lot of money that he couldn't possibly pay back and this was his only way out".
Another officer told the court she heard John Nikolic say to Yvette, after drugs had been found in the yacht's lazarette locker, "I will be gone for some time, please look after our babies".
The court has also heard from multiple witnesses that John Nikolic volunteered the location of a second stash of cocaine, after the first stash was found hidden in a blue bag in the lazarette locker.
The trial before Justice Daniel Goundar continues.