Bainimarama and Qiliho return to court for appeal case

February 29, 2024 12:37 pm

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho’s appeal matter is being heard in the Court of Appeal.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution had appealed the matter following the acquittal of the two by the Suva Magistrates Court.

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

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Magistrate Seini Puamau acquitted them in October last year.

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in court today

The matter was called in the Appeals Court this morning where the State made submissions while the defense lawyers are set to respond this afternoon.

The state outlined eight grounds for appeal including claims that the magistrate made assumptions on certain matters and failed to exercise discretion in recalling prosecution witnesses.

They allege that the Magistrate assumed former Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu, a state witness, had bad motives without examining him.

Suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho in court

The state also argues that there was only one investigation at the University of the South Pacific when Bainimarama suggested to Qiliho to distance himself from the investigation. They dispute Bainimarama’s claim that he was referring to a COVID-19 investigation, branding it a recent invention.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Salesi Temo reminded the state that every lawyer should have a strategy to fight for their client, responding to their concerns about the magistrate’s failure to recall certain witnesses.

The Chief Justice emphasized that lawyers should have applied if they deemed it necessary to reexamine witnesses.

Defense lawyer Devanesh Sharma is scheduled to respond this afternoon.