Nikolics moved to notorious Fiji prison
EXCLUSIVE: ALLEGED Aussie drug smuggler John Nikolic and his wife Yvette have been moved from their respective prisons in Fiji's Lautoka to the notorious Suva Remand Centre, where they will remain until trial.
The pair, who will face court in Suva today on serious drugs charges, are expected to be given a trial date in the near future.
Their trial will likely run for a fortnight.
Former Melbourne horse trainer John Nikolic, brother of disgraced jockey Danny Nikolic, faces charges of illicit drug importation and possession, as well as weapons charges, after the yacht he sailed from Colombia to Fiji with his wife Yvette was allegedly found to be carrying up to $30 million worth of drugs, and undeclared guns and ammunition.
While the main charge of drug importation was recently and sensationally dropped against Yvette, the Gold Coast mum of two and would-be naturopath still faces drug possession and weapons charges, which the Fiji Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions (OCDD) told News Corp carried a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The Nikolics' case was moved from the Lautoka High Court to Suva at the request of their legal team because they were unable to get a hearing date with the Lautoka High Court judge before 2020, due to a massive backlog of cases.
The Lautoka court is dealing with cases now which date back to 2014, News Corp has been told.
In Suva it is possible their trial could be held early next year or even start late this year.
Built this decade to replace the old, overcrowded remand section of Suva prison - where convicted, hard-core prisoners were often accommodated with those still awaiting trial - the new Suva Remand Centre in Korovou is nevertheless notorious for its poor conditions.
The Lautoka women's prison Yvette was previously remanded to is considered one of the most modern, least congested and civilised correctional centres in Fiji, and Yvette has previously expressed her gratitude to guards there for treating her well.
Sources in Fiji told News Corp Suva prison, including the remand section, was known for breaches of human rights and it was unlikely either Yvette or John would receive any special treatment now or in the future.
The Nikolics have been in custody in Fiji since June 22, when their catamaran Shenanigans was raided at Denarau Marina, part way through what they described on social media as a holiday and adventure of a lifetime.
Their journey from Florida, to Colombia, through Panama and across the Pacific took half-a-year.
The Fiji OCDD said it was alleged John Nikolic imported 12.9 kilograms of cocaine on the yacht and the couple had in their possession 34.4 grams of methamphetamine and cocaine tablets, worth an estimated total value of between $20 to $30 million, when the boat was raided.
It was also alleged the couple failed to declare one nine millimetre Smith and Wesson pistol with 62 rounds of ammunition and one revolver with 41 rounds of ammunition.
Immediately after the raid and alleged drug seizure by Fiji authorities, Yvette Nikolic was taken into custody while John Nikolic was rushed to Lautoka Hospital by ambulance after drinking what border police have told News Corp was a toxic and potentially lethal drug cocktail.
John Nikolic was later charged after making a miraculous recovery and being discharged from the hospital's intensive care unit, into police custody.