30 Jun 2014

Accused admits contact with gangsters

9:39 pm on 30 June 2014

A man charged with organising a fatal cocaine importation has remembered details of phone conversations with a Colombian gangster for what he says is the first time in two-and-a-half years.

Peter Leaitua has denied a charge of importing the Class A drug into New Zealand in September 2011.

Peter Leaitua.

Peter Leaitua. Photo: FACEBOOK

His mother-in-law Sorlinda Aristizabal Vega died the day after arriving in Auckland after several of the 24 packets of cocaine burst inside her.

On Monday, Mr Leaitua questioned at the High Court in Auckland about a series of phone calls he had with the gangster.

Mr Leaitua said he told the gangster he didn't want his mother-in-law taking part in the drug operation.

Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery asked the accused why he was divulging this information for the first time on Monday.

Mr Leaitua said he had been locked in solitary confinement over the weekend without a television and had had an opportunity to remember things.

Before Mr Leaitua, Ms Vega and the rest of his family left Buenos Aires, the accused man had met with Colombian gang members and the encounter was photographed by Argentinean police.

Mr Leaitua said he only learned that the gangsters were involved in drugs when he met them in a cafe and was told Ms Vega was going to import drugs. He told the court on Monday that he disagreed with the plan.

He previously denied being one of the men in the photos but for the first time on Monday conceded that he was one of the men photographed.

Mr Leaitua denied under cross-examination by Mr Raftery that he was giving evidence based on tactics, rather than the truth.

The trial was adjourned early after the accused had issues with his asthma.