High Court to decide on Puamau action

April 3, 2024 12:35 pm

Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo says following the appeal matter involving the former Prime Minister and suspended police commissioner, he will consider whether to institute contempt of court proceedings against Suva Magistrate Seini Puamau.

The Acting CJ made the comments as the appeal matter was called in the High Court today with Voreqe Bainimarama and Sitiveni Qiliho appearing before him.

As the matter started, state counsel, Laisani Tabuakuro requested for a hearing date as soon as possible while highlighting an appeal filed on the conviction in relation to the two.

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The Acting CJ then stated the high court had made certain orders and Magistrate Seini Puamau was supposed to follow the orders.

He said that in the 15 years serving as a magistrate, no magistrate has ever pronounced publicly or with their judgements when ordered by the high court to reverse to reverse the decision they have followed the high court decisions whether they like it or not.

Justice Temo said Magistrate Puamau will be accorded right to counsel.

He said he will consider his options of taking her on a contempt of court proceedings.

He says there is a system in Fiji and Magistrates Court listens to the high court whether following which the parties have the right to go to Appeals Court and then Supreme Court.

The Acting CJ said various options are open to him.

These include activating contempt proceedings, refer her to police for refusing lawful order of the high court, recommend to the president for a tribunal to remove her from the bench for alleged misbehavior.

He says the fourth option is for her to resign.

On March 14th, the Acting Chief Justice had ordered that the matter be called before Magistrate Puamau on 18th March, for her to abide by the decision of the High Court and pronounce the two guilty as charged and convict them accordingly.

Justice Temo had also directed the accused lawyers to file mitigation and sentencing submissions for both responders.

He had also directed that Magistrate Puamau hear the sentencing submissions on March 21st.

Justice Temo had also stated that the Resident Magistrate pass the sentences for Bainimarama and Qiliho on 28th March.

However, on March 28th Magistrate Puamau discharged Bainimarama from the charge of perverting the course of justice while suspended Police Commissioner Qiliho was fined $1500 for abuse of office.

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