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July 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Fiji’s High Court in Suva this afternoon refused an application for a permanent stay on proceeding by former director of Fijian Holdings Limited (FHL) Laisenia Qarase.

The court heard that the application was filed after trial began and that Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption lawyer Michael Blanchflower had opposed the application when it was made.

Qarase is charged with six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty with respect to a property in which he has a private interest.

In handing his ruling, presiding Judge Justice Priyantha Fernando said the charges were laid in 2008 and since then there was no indication from Qarase and his lawyers of a stay application being made.

The court heard the application for stay was made recently and the basis on which it was made indicated that it was baseless.

The court heard the fact that a witness is dead or missing cannot lead to stay of all prosecutions and if such was the case, so many cases in the country could not be tried.

The court also heard that there is no evidence of missing documents or notes by former FHL chair Lyle Cupit and there was no request by defence from Prosecution to disclose those documents.

Justice Fernando told the court that by his actions, Qarase proved to the court that he could not be tried fairly.

In another ruling Justice Fernando told the court that Qarase will have to answer to all the nine charges laid against him.

Qarase’s lawyer, Tupou Draunidalo had made an application for a no case to answer after Prosecution closed their case on Tuesday.

In his ruling Justice Fernando said Prosecution has evidence to prove that Qarase had an interest towards the three companies.

It is alleged Qarase between 1992 to 2000 while employed as a director of Fijian Holdings Limited, Financial Advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board and advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs, in abuse of the authority of his office, did arbitrary acts.

He is alleged to have applied in the name of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Mavana Investments Limited and a family owned company named Q-Ten Investments Limited for the issuance and allotment of Class A shares in Fijian Holdings Limited.

The case will continue tomorrow.

By Mereani Gonedua


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