The wife of former Australian horse trainer John Nikolic has been freed from custody in Fiji after she was found not guilty of drugs and weapons charges.
Yvette Nikolic and her husband John have been on trial in Suva, and pleaded not guilty to five charges related to the importation and possession of drugs, as well as the possession of firearms without a licence.
On Friday lawyers for Yvette Nikolic submitted a no case to answer application to Justice Daniel Goundar, after the prosecution wrapped up its case last week.
The application sought to have Mrs Nikolic acquitted without presenting a defence.
Justice Goundar on Monday ruled in favour of that application.
In setting out the reasons for his decision, Justice Goundar told the court there was no evidence to prove that Mrs Nikolic was complicit in the possession or importation of illicit drugs, or the possession of weapons.
Justice Goundar also said the prosecution’s argument that Mrs Nikolic shared a common intention with her husband was circumstantial.
“As a result the court makes a finding that there is no incriminating direct or circumstantial evidence against the first accused on all five charges,” he said.
“The application for a no case to answer is allowed, and a finding of not guilty is entered on all five charges against [Mrs Nikolic].”
John Nikolic trial continues tomorrow, verdict expected
A tearful Yvette Nikolic sobbed as Justice Goundar presented his ruling exonerating her.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Mrs Nikolic’s lawyer Ronald Gordon said the decision was a “just result” for his client.
“My client has maintained her innocence from the beginning. It’s taken us a long eight months to get here,” he said.
“There was no evidence at all against her on any of the charges, so we are thankful to the Fijian justice system, and we have been vindicated.”
However Justice Goundar said there was “some direct and circumstantial evidence on all five charges” against Mr Nikolic.
Mr Nikolic’s trial continues tomorrow, when a verdict is expected to be handed down.
The couple were arrested by Fijian border police at Port Denarau in June 2018, and both had been in custody since then.
Customs officials allege they found 13 bars of cocaine, 65 tablets of illicit drugs, two handguns and 112 rounds of ammunition on their yacht, Shenanigans.
Much of the drugs were allegedly found in a blue bag, stored in a locker below deck. Some $US15,000 in cash was also allegedly found on the vessel.
The prosecution said the couple had sailed the luxury vessel from Florida in the United States, stopping in Colombia, passing through the Panama Canal and “visiting several beautiful islands” before reaching Fiji.