Fijian British Army sergeant denies committing bigamy

Fijian British Army sergeant denies committing bigamy

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Wednesday 21/02/2024

A Fijian British Army sergeant accused of bigamy after he married a second woman in Kenya when he had not yet divorced his first wife insisted he 'didn't understand what was happening' because the ceremony was conducted in Swahili.

Sergeant Noa Dravikula had separated from his first wife but was not officially divorced when he tied the knot with a second woman in a Sharia ceremony, a court martial has been told.

The 42-year-old soldier had been deployed to Nanyuki, to the North of Nairobi, when he started a relationship with Kenyan woman, Kuki Wason.

Prosecutors allege the couple enjoyed an Islamic marriage ceremony, called a nikah, in October 2021 - which meant he was committing bigamy.

However, Sgt Dravikula insists he 'didn't understand what was happening' because the marriage service was in the African language of Swahili, which he does not speak.

The marriage came to the Army's attention when Sgt Dravikula expressed his 'wish' to bring Wason back to the UK with him.

At a hearing in Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, Sgt Dravikula denied one count of bigamy.

British law states couples can marry if they are both aged 18 years or over and are free to marry if they are single, widowed or divorced or if they were in a civil partnership which has been dissolved.

Prosecutor Flight Lieutenant Charlotte Adams told the court Sgt Dravikula married his first wife in June 2011 in a Methodist church in Fiji.

The court heard Sgt Dravikula's first wife, with whom he shares a child, had initiated divorce proceedings after their separation in March 2017. However, the divorce had not yet been finalised, and so they were not officially separated.

The court heard from a marriage officer who explained Islamic marriage was different in Kenya.

He said their wedding certificate 'shows they got married'.

Sgt Dravikula denies bigamy.

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