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Defence to file for No Case to Answer

The Magistrates Court in Suva will hear written submissions from the Defence counsel and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on No Case to Answer in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho on Wednesday.

Defence counsel Davenesh Sharma told the court that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has broken the element of the case and that it does not meet the threshold.

Sharma requested time to file for a no case to answer for both his clients.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu also requested time to file its response on the defence’s submission;  he however intends to provide a verbal submission.

Cross-Examination

During the cross-examination, Sharma cracked open the DPP’s case on the former Prime Minister and the suspended Commissioner of Police case.

Sharma had asked SSP Neiko whether he was aware that there was a BDO report that the USP Council had, Neiko had initially said no but changed his answer and indicated that he was aware of the BDO report.

Sharma then asked Neiko whether he was aware that the Chief of Intelligence and Investigation Biu Matavou had asked him to bring the file to his office after the review, the former Director of CID said he was not aware of that conversation.

Defence Counsel further pressed the witness whether he was aware that the Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu, after the National Security Council meeting on the September 17, 2020, came with the instructions from the Chair of the Security Council and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to stop the investigation – Neiko replied that he was again unaware of this discussion.

Sharma pressed again that round about 12 noon on that particular day, the then Acting COMPOL had called Matavou to stop the investigation – the former Director of CID said he was still aware of any directive from the Security Council to Matavou.

He said in a normal procedure, the proper term is file away; Neiko said yes.

However, Sharma said this has been the case a minute would have inserted a minute indicating the directions of Qiliho called for the investigation to stop – Neiko told the Court that he had received a call from Qiliho instructing him and the Investigating Officer Reshmi Dass to stop the USP investigation.

The Defence argued that in any normal procedure, a minute would have been filed and that in this case it was not, which was not procedure – Neiko said no.

Neiko then went on to say that he had not spoken to COMPOL and called for the Investigating Officer Reshmi Dass to update Qiliho on the pending investigation.

The former Director of CID told the Court that he had listened to the conversation between Dass and Qiliho and that COMPOL had directed them to stop the investigation.

Sharma then argued that there was no minute in the docket to indicate Qiliho’s instruction to stop the investigation – Neiko said his actions to verify Qiliho’s decision would have been deemed as an insubordination on his part.

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 matter has been adjourned to Wednesday for mention.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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