3 Jul 2004

Fiji denies bail to Asian woman caught in drug bust

7:25 am on 3 July 2004

The only woman in the group of six Asians arrested in the US$600 million drug bust in Fiji last month has been denied bail for at least a week.

The lawyer for 28-year old Yuen Hai Ha, also known as Diane Zhong, Mehboob Raza, told Justice Gerald Winters that his client was a mother of two children who didn't go to the drug laboratory and wasn't aware of the chemicals.

Mr Raza said his client had only an innocent association with the rest of the group.

But state prosecutor Gregor Allen said police observation showed that Zhong had entered the factory on several occasions.

Mr Allen opposed bail saying that the drug warehouse was registered under Zhong's name and they also found US$140,000 of suspicious origin in her bank account.

Justice Winters has told both lawyers to file submissions before he makes a decision next Friday.

The drug case's not likely to be heard until February or March next year.

Meanwhile, although drug making chemicals have been removed for destruction in New Zealand, the factory remains contaminated with highly toxic materials.