Ben Daveta cross examined in MP trial

August 3, 2022 12:50 pm

[File Photo]

A former staff member of the Opposition Office Ben Daveta took the witness stand today in the trial of SODELPA MP Salote Radrodro.

Daveta who had carried out administration duties was questioned by both the Prosecution and Defense lawyers on the information given by Radrodro in forms relating to allowances.

These forms required her personal details including her permanent residence.

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The MP allegedly obtained a financial advantage in breach of the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014.

It is alleged that Radrodro falsely stated that her permanent residence was in Namulomulo village, Nabouwalu, Bua, and obtained $37,920 between August 2019 and April 2020.

Prosecution lawyer Joseph Work questioned Daveta which location did Radrodro state in the forms for her place of residence at the time.

Daveta explained to the court that in 2018 prior to the Opposition MP’s being sworn in they are assigned a constituency. Radrodro’s constituency was Nasinu as she resided in Tacirua.

However based also on the current electoral system with the national constituency, Daveta told the court that Radrodro can gain support from outside of Nasinu.

Daveta was also questioned by the Prosecution whether he knew if the information given by the MPs were true. Daveta responded there is a level of trust shared with the MPs on the information they have provided and therefore accepts what has been provided.

Defense lawyer Simione Valenitabua then questioned Daveta if the constituency assigned to SODELPA MPs are only for administration purposes.

Daveta explained the constituencies was to ensure fair representation and campaigning.

Valenitabua pointed out that Radrodro hails from Vanuabalavu, Lau and that her husband hails from Numulomulo village, Nabouwalu Bua.

The Defense lawyer asked Daveta whether she would also have support from the husband’s village. Daveta agreed that given her strong links that she would have gained support from Bua.

He says she has raised issues on behalf of the Bua communities in Parliament relating to infrastructure and women.

Daveta also told the court that Radrodro is one of the most effective MPs and has visited Lau, Bua and throughout Fiji.

The court heard that in May 2019, Radrodro made her intentions known to the Secretary General of Parliament in a letter to relocate from Tacirua to Bua.

She had also stated that it would ensure more effectiveness and efficiency of her participation and would translate into more votes for SODELPA.

Daveta said that they had sought advice from the Secretary General office He said based on the requirements of the Secretariats Office, Radrodro would need to have supporting documents from a person of social standing. Daveta confirmed that she had obtained this from a church leader in the village.

The Prosecution lawyer Joseph Work then cross examined Daveta on Radrodro’s chosen constituency of Nasinu.

Daveta reiterated that the current electoral system has a national constituency which would allow her to campaign outside of Nasinu.

The Prosecution lawyer also asked if Radrodro is contesting the 2022 General election to which Daveta responded that he is not able to confirm. The defense lawyer objected to the question.

Judge Justice Doctor Thusara Kumarange told him to refrain from the question as it was a political one.

The trial continues with a representative from the Parliaments’ Office of the Secretary General.