Directions issued to fake soap defendants

The two female defendants in the fake Waswas soap case have been ordered to not interfere with State witnesses and to surrender their passports to the court.

Senior Provincial Magistrate, Pious Tapil, gave the direction after 40-year-old Yan Xiao of Hubei Village in Wuhan, China, and 33-year-old Neng Xiao of Central China appeared before him at the Committal Court on Friday, March 24th.

Yan is the commercial manager of Golden Blocks Ltd while Neng is the manager of the warehouse where the counterfeit soaps were allegedly stored.

The two women have been charged with ‘counterfeiting trade marks’ under section 477, subsection 2(b) of the ‘Criminal Code Act 1974’.

Yan, who is an Australian citizen, had her passport confiscated by Lae police while Neng still had hers during the hearing.

“Both defendants are not to leave Morobe Province or the country without the leave of the court,” said Magistrate Tapil.

“Both defendants are to report to police every 2 weeks, commencing on Tuesday, March 28th, and thereafter.”

The defendants’ counsel also sought to restrain media from reporting on the case, saying they have been intruding into the private residence of the accused and a journalist assaulted his colleague lawyer at the police station.

Magistrate Tapil, however, said for now, all matters that come to court are within public domain and for public consumption.

“If they go beyond reporting obligations then defendants have various avenues to seek for proper remedies. Otherwise, the application is refused.”

Police have been given 3 months to have their files ready while the matter has been adjourned for a month to April 28th.

Carmella Gware