Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Matavou takes the stand in the Bainimarama and Qiliho trial

The former Chief of Intelligence and Investigations Biu Matavou told the Court that he had received a call from the former Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu instructing him to stop the investigations into the University of the South Pacific.

The fourth state witness took the stand in the trial of the former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the suspended Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho and appeared before Resident Magistrate Seini Puamau this morning.

Matavou told the Court that on the morning that Tudravu was to attend the Security Council Meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister, the former Acting Commissioner of Police had asked to be briefed on the USP investigations.

He said after 12 noon of the same day, he received a call from Tudravu where they had spoken in the i-Taukei language, where he was directed to close the investigation.

Matavou told the Court that the former Acting Commissioner of Police said ‘Sa tukuni mai me sa sogo na file (meaning that the file should be close), where he went on to ask ‘Ocei tukuna me sa sogo na file (Who said that the file should close)?

He said Tudravu said ‘naba dua’ (number one); Ocei o naba dua (Who is number one).

He added that number one was the then Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Matavou said the investigations were in its final stage.

Cross-Examination

Defence Counsel Davenesh Sharma asked the former Chief of Intelligence and Investigation on what was the process to close an investigation or file, and is the file endorsed by the Director of CID?

Matavou said yes, that the file is only closed after the Director of CID endorses it and is kept in the archives at the Criminal Investigation Department HQ for record purposes, for a period of up to five years.

Sharma also asked if the processes allowed the Commissioner of Police to endorse a file to be closed or any other senior officers for any file to be closed, Matavou said no.

Sharma also asked if the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution when sanctioning files, gives advises to Police to continue or discontinue a case, Matavou said the DPP also gives advice and if it sees that Police lack evidence, then the file is closed.

Matavou said that the Director of CID cannot go against the decision of the DPP when the DPP files for Nolle prosequi.

He added that it does not take any other endorsements from any other body or persons to endorse the closing of a file.

Sharma asked Matavou what the former Acting Commissioner of Police said after his meeting at the National Security Council, Matavou told the Court that Tudravu told him that the former Prime Minister informed Tudravu to close the investigations.

Defence Counsel asked Matavou what did he do, Matavou said that he advised the Director of CID that they have been instructed by the Security Council to close the investigations into USP.

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

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2022 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 July 15, 2022 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 USP, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights to USP.

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Davanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima, while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

The trial continues.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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