NRL star’s travel ban after indecent assault charge
EELS superstar Maika Sivo, charged over an alleged indecent assault involving a female bartender at a poolside Boxing Day party, has been granted bail with a surity of $500 by the Nadi Magistrate Court in Fiji on Monday morning.
Sivo was reminded "he is no special case" as Magistrate Peni Dalituicama placed a stop departure on his movements outside Fiji.
Sivo's legal counsel Mosese Naivalu, in requesting bail, also requested he be allowed to travel to Australia for off-season training.
Sivo will take a plea on January 7.
Sivo spent Sunday night in a Fijian police cell.
The Parramatta winger, who was spotted drinking at a luxury resort on Boxing Day on the evening before his arrest, is expected to say he was trying to get the woman's attention when the incident occurred.
Police say the incident took place near the town of Nadi, about 30km from Sivo's home village, where he had been with family.
A guest at the Wyndham Resort, on Denarau Island, said her husband recognised the league's leading try-scorer when they spotted him in the pool bar a day after Christmas.
"He was totally harmless," the woman said on Sunday.
"He wasn't being rude or obnoxious, he was laughing and having a good time. There was nothing, no trouble or anything at that time."
The guest said Sivo wished her family, among others, a merry Christmas and appeared to be drinking with friends and family members.
She said the star winger was participating in a traditional Fijian New Year custom which involved splashing people with water.
"He was throwing water on people but everyone was doing it," she said.
"Absolutely no aggression, no anger, no arguments or anything."
Sources say Sivo is accused of touching the female bar staff "below the belly".
It is understood Sivo may say in court, through his lawyers, that he was trying to get the woman's attention and touched or pulled on her skirt in order to do so.
The staff member, who was in resort uniform, had been serving drinks to Sivo and friends from the resort's popular poolside bar.
The resort's reception refused to comment, simply saying they have "no information at all" and "everything is fine here".
Senior staff said they had no information and directed questions to a manager, who was unavailable.
Wyndham Resort solicitors said the matter was "a criminal charge" and did not involve them.
Sivo's NRL club confirmed he had been arrested on the South Pacific holiday island.
"The club takes these incidents seriously and will be monitoring the situation closely. As with any legal matter, it is important that we follow due process, and the club will review all information available regarding the alleged incident," the statement said.
Sivo has been spending the off-season in his family village of Momi, posing with his parents for a picture on Christmas Day.
Parramatta have informed the NRL integrity unit and are offering their player support.
Some media outlets, citing a police announcement, said Sivo had been charged with indecent assault, which carries a five-year prison sentence.
However Sivo's club said the advice from their lawyer was that he was actually charged with the lesser offence of indecent annoyance.
Indecent annoyance, under Fijian law, is a broad charge for behaviour or language which "insults the modesty of any person".
The charge, if proven in court, can carry a maximum one year in prison.
A video of Sivo went viral when his father, Joeli Nawalu, flew to Australia to watch him play when his team beat the Newcastle Knights.
Sivo, contracted to the Eels until the end of the 2021 season, debuted in round one this season and ended up the NRL's top try-scorer with 22.