The three Chinese men charged with selling counterfeit cigarettes faced their verdict in Honiara.The Magistrates Court in Honiara last Tuesday handed down their decision on Mr. Sheng Chen, Mr. John Szetu and Mr. Reginald Xie who were charged each with four offences.
In handing down its decision, the Magistrates Court said the defendants conspired together to defraud the Government of Solomon Islands by avoiding Customs Duty and Goods Tax.
It was made known to the Court that each of the defendants was in possession of the nominated counterfeit 'Winfield' brand cigarettes.
During the Crown case, the Court said that one of the defendants, Mr. Xie, early in 2002 sold ten cartons of Winfield Blue cigarettes cheaply to a shop owner in China Town.
At about the same time, the other defendant and business partner of Mr. Xie, Mr. Szetu suggested to one relative that easy money could come from dealing in counterfeit cigarettes.
In the month of February 2006, considerable numbers of counterfeit cigarettes appeared at the Honiara Market and also through local stalls throughout the capital, but the source of the cartons was left unknown.
This was until the late evening of Friday 10th of March 2006 when three Chinese men were observed dumping about100 cardboard cartons on the plantation land at Tenaru Beach.
The two witnesses, Fred Tau and Cliffson Buruotu told the Court that they were very clear and certain with their direct identifications of Mr. Xie on the night of the dumping of the cartons of counterfeit cigarettes.
There was, however, no direct identification evidence to connect Mr. Szetu to the events at Tenaru, Vura Log Pond or Burns Creek where the dumping of the cartons took place.
All charges were dismissed on the other two defendants, Mr. Chen and Mr. Szetu.
The Court found Mr. Xie guilty of conspiring and distributing counterfeit Winfield cigarettes.