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Case to Answer in Bainimarama, Qiliho trial

The Magistrates Court in Suva today ruled that there is a Case to Answer with relevant and admissible evidence to continue the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho.

Resident Magistrate Seini Puamau while delivering her ruling in the No Case to Answer application said: “Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama the State alleges that you attempted to Pervert the Course of Justice by suggesting to Sitiveni Qiliho, a person that you had been instrumental in appointing to the position of Commissioner of Police, and a man you knew to be Commissioner of Police, to stay away from the USP investigations.”

Puamau said the allegation is that Bainimarama’s objective was to ensure that these investigations never made their way to court of law; that by virtue of his position of leadership he was aware or ought to have been aware of the power his words held, that a suggestion from him did not prefer a certain course could have the tendency to cause those in State service under him to diver from a particular course of action; and that he was aware or ought to have been aware by virtue of his position that investigations were underway, that they had merit and that by if left to continue unabated, they could result in some charge being filed in Court.

She told Qiliho: “The State alleges that you abused the authority of your office as COMPOL by intentionally directing two subordinate officers to do an act which you knew was arbitrary and in abuse of the authority of your office, namely to stop investigations into the allegations arising from activities at USP, which act was prejudicial to the rights of the USP, intending or at least being aware that prejudice could result thereby, or perhaps being reckless whether prejudice would occur as a result.”

She told both the accused that each have the right to remain silent, as this is a constitutional right.

She said she will not think they are guilty because they have chosen to remain silent.

“I undertake to carefully review the evidence to determine if the State has proven beyond reasonable doubt each element of the offence you are charged with.”

Puamau said both the accused had the right to testify in open Court.

“I indicate that if you choose to exercise this option, you can and very likely will be crossed-examined by the State Counsel.”

She said that both the accused also have the right to call witnesses to testify on their behalf, regardless of whether they choose to remain silent or testify.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice, while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

It is alleged that Qiliho on the 15th of July 2020 as the Police Commissioner directed the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Serupepeli Neiko and Inspector Reshmi Dass to stop investigations into the police complaint by the USP, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was arbitrary act of prejudicial to the rights to USP.

The trial continues on 28 September.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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