In a jury trial beginning on Monday of last week, the defense case began Thursday for Mr. Silverio Rengulbai, a man accused of possessing and trafficking methamphetamine on multiple occasions.
In his opening statement, Defense Attorney Johnson Toribiong asked the jury to “keep an open mind and be impartial”, and to remember that, according to the laws of Palau, confession by itself is not enough to constitute guilt without corroborating evidence.
Earlier in the prosecution, a police report revealed that Mr. Rengulbai had admitted in a written confession that he has used meth for much of his life, and that he sometimes sells meth to people he knows, but not for a living.
Director Ismael Aguon of the Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA) and members of his team testified during Thursday’s trial that a two-hour search of Mr. Rengulbai’s home on the morning of March 7, 2020, uncovered samples of methamphetamine which looked as if they were ready for distribution, along with over $16 thousand in cash, marijuana cigarettes, and drug paraphernalia which included scales, plastic straws for packaging meth, and a glass tube used to smoke it. The search also uncovered a cooler outside his house which was full of dead protected fish species, including bumphead parrotfish and Napoleon wrasse, along with turtle eggs.
According to Director Aguon’s testimony, on the morning of the search Mr. Rengulbai admitted verbally to the NEA Director that he was addicted to the drug, and asked for assistance.
Much of the prosecution earlier last week examined three “controlled buy” operations organized by the NEA, with the assistance of confidential informants (CI’s), mostly traffickers who agreed to work with law enforcement. The operations took place between 2017 and 2020, and used CI’s to record drug transactions allegedly made with Mr. Rengulbai, and to deliver the meth samples which were sold to them to the NEA.
The Defense case attempted to question the reliability of information provided by CI’s.
The Court released the jury for the weekend at the end of Thursday’s trial. They will reconvene today for continuation of the Defense, and closing statements.

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