Judge to deliver ruling on MP’s case tomorrow

May 16, 2022 12:58 pm

MP Ratu Suliano Matanitobua.

High Court judge Justice Thushara Kumarage will deliver his ruling tomorrow on whether he will preside over the trial of Opposition MP Ratu Suliano Matanitobua.

Ratu Suliano’s lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo made the recusal application on the grounds of “apparent or ostensible bias” by reason of pre-judgment of offending, witnesses and other issues surrounding the documents and facts of this case.

The Social Democratic Liberal Party MP is charged with one count of giving false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining financial advantage.

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Ratu Suliano allegedly falsely stated that his permanent place of residence is Namosi Village, in Namosi.

He then allegedly obtained over $38,300 between August 2019 and April 2020.

Vosarogo says the perception of fair trial, required under the Constitution, is not possible due to Judge Kumarage having dealt with the Niko Nawaikula’s trial.

He adds that Nawaikula was on trial last week for a similar corruption-related offence and he is definite that the witnesses and documents that will be adduced in this case are similar.

Vosarogo asked the Judge for Ratu Suliano’s case to be dispatched to another judge in the Criminal Division of the High Court for determination of the trial issues and the trial.

In response, FICAC counsel, Ashish Nand says there needs to be logical connections on the circumstances of this case and this has not been established by Vosarogo.

Nand says the defence has failed to identify which documents or witnesses that will be used in this case is similar to Nawaikula’s case.

He says the circumstances of this case is yet to be established.

Nand adds the content of this case needs to be viewed objectively, before a thorough decision is made.

The FICAC lawyer submitted the judge should dismiss the recusal application as there is no substantial reason for the High Court Judge to recuse himself from this case.