Monday, June 17, 2024
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Ruling in No Case to Answer deferred to 5 Sept

The ruling into the No Case to Answer submission in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has been deferred to 5 September 2023.

Defence counsel Davenesh Sharma told the court today that the State is attempting to establish a connection between the first accused and the second accused, based on the testimony of former Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu.

He said this lacked evidence and should be thrown out.

Sharma said no evidence has been presented to support the arbitrary act of the former Prime Minister and suspended Commissioner.

He told the court that the State’s reliance rests on hearsay evidence and a brief statement by the former Prime Minister inferring at the National Security Council Meeting to the former Acting COMPOL that: “I have suggested earlier to Tuks to stay away from the investigation.”

Sharma said this statement by the former Prime Minister facing the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice – insinuates that Bainimarama had made a statement to stop the investigation.

He said that the former Prime Minister did not ask for the investigations into USP should stop and that no such concern was expressed to Tudravu at that time to stop the investigation.

Sharma told the Court that the Chief of Intelligence and Investigation ACP Biu Matavou had written to the complainant that investigations had stopped, based on what the former Acting Commissioner of Police instructions that investigation into USP should stop.

He said with Count One, insufficient evidence has been shown by the State on this matter and the onus was on the State, who was drafting the charge, to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

He said the State does not have the authority to speculate what had happened.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Ratu David Toganivalu said that there is compelling evidence given by the former Acting COMPOL and that based on his evidence, the former Prime Minister said to stop investigations into USP and that ‘Tuks’ was looking into it.

Toganivalu said Tudravu had identified who said this and what his understanding was – Based on the evidence or on his conduct; the former Prime Minister perverted the cause of justice.

On Monday, Resident Magistrate Seini Puamau asked both the State and the Defence to make submission on this question: Is the Prime Minister never ever the Prime Minister or if the Commissioner of Police never ever the Commissioner of Police at any time.

Toganivalu said that there is never a time that the Prime Minister is never the Prime Minister. There may be an instance that when the Prime Minister is out of the country and assigns a designate, but the Prime Minister is always the Prime Minister where ever he is.

Toganivalu said the evidence given by Inspector Reshmi Dass stated that her directive came from the Office of the Prime Minister.

However, Resident Magistrate Seini Puamau retorted that Dass’s statement lacked evidence and that the State had only one piece of evidence in this matter.

She said Inspector Dass did not fact-check to see whether the directives came from the Office of the Prime Minister and that this was hearsay – Based on a conversation that the Acting Director of CID SSP Seru Neiko together with Inspector Dass with the second accused.

However, the State then told the Court that Inspector Dass had noted this down in her Police diary.

Magistrate Puamau then stated that this case has made people crazy!

Meanwhile, 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 for ruling.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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