Soni loses bid for bail pending appeal

2019-06-05 14:56
Murder accused Rajivee Soni.

Murder accused Rajivee Soni. (File)

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Jailbird Rajivee Soni has been denied permission to appeal a judge’s decision to refuse him bail pending his appeal against his conviction and effective 30-year prison term.

Meanwhile, the former businessman, who got hitmen to eliminate his former best friend Dr Bhavish Sewram, is continuing to serve his time in New Prison’s hospital.

Judge Jacqueline Henriques on Tuesday refused Soni’s latest application in the Durban high court.

Of his health, she said there was a letter stating he suffered from “non-occlusive coronary disease and blood pressure”.

There was no reference to him suffering from any chronic illness.

She said his advocate Jimmy Howse conceded it was never brought to the court’s attention, until this application, that Soni was being held in the prison’s hospital.

She said nothing in the papers deals with this.

Howse, she said, could not advance reasons why Soni did not bring any application to bring new facts to light in support of bail pending appeal.

“One would have thought that if his health condition was so serious, he would have taken steps to bring this to the court’s attention for consideration,” said the judge.

Two months ago the judge granted Soni leave to appeal the conviction and sentence to the Supreme Court of Appeal. It was then that she also denied him bail pending the outcome of the appeal, which resulted in the latest application for leave to appeal that.

In convicting Soni last year, the judge found that he had Sewram killed in May 2013. It was over suspicions that the doctor was having an affair with his wife. Soni was also found guilty on five other charges; three of defeating the ends of justice, conspiracy to commit murder and assault.

In yesterday’s judgment, Judge Henriques said the chances of him absconding were even greater now.

She said that state advocate, Sandesh Sanker, had argued that Soni was “a man of means” and could not be treated as one would treat other offenders.

Sanker said Soni could take his daughter and flee.

The judge said: “Given that he hired persons to murder the deceased and engaged in the pattern of activity alleged, I do not believe that it can be said that he does not pose a danger to society nor that he will not re-offend,” she said.

Judge Henriques added that after considering the grounds of appeal and the authorities referred to, she found that Soni has not shown that there are reasonable prospects that another court would come to a different decision and grant him bail now.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  soni murder trial

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