Tudravu testifies in Bainimarama, Qiliho trial

July 19, 2023 12:53 pm

Former Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu says the issue about the investigation into the University of the South Pacific was raised at the National Security Council meeting in 2020.

Tudravu took the stand as the third prosecution witness in the trial against former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

Tudravu says the National Security Council meeting was held at the former Prime Minister’s office boardroom and he attended the meeting on behalf of the suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho who was away on study break.

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He says he wanted to discuss the issue of USP, as the standoff between the institution and the government was publicly known.

He says he wanted to seek clarification on the government’s stance on the issue.

The former Acting Police Commissioner says before he headed into the meeting in September 2020, he called former Chief of Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution, ACP Biu Matavou who briefed him on the investigation into USP and was told that it was still underway.

Tudravu says during the meeting he informed Council Chair, Voreqe Bainimarama that the Director of Public Prosecution wanted feedback on the investigation.

During cross-examination, Tudravu says the Council Chair then allegedly told him that he had told Qiliho to stay away from the investigation.

He says following this he called ACP Matavou and relayed to him to stop the investigation as the Council Chair and Commissioner Qiliho had a discussion about it.

When questioned by Defense Counsel Devanesh Sharma, he says he interpreted that the investigation needs to stop.

He also admitted that there were certain procedures that needed to be followed before a file was closed and the Director Criminal Investigation Department has the powers to stop investigations.

He says prior to this, a thorough analysis is carried out with reasons attached to stopping a particular investigation.

When questioned whether any files were closed during his tenure, he replied that he doesn’t interfere with the investigation or see files unless it is brought to his office.

The defence referred to the minutes of the National Security Council meeting.

Tudravu says when Bainimarama relayed to him about his discussions with Qiliho, he understood that it meant stopping the investigation.

When questioned about the Council Chair’s authority over him as the Acting Police Commissioner, Tudravu replied that Bainimarama was the Prime Minister and he couldn’t overrule him despite the constitutional powers he had in his capacity as the Acting Police Commissioner.

During cross-examination, he also said that leadership during those time were not easy and the government had to have a say.

He said if he had disobeyed instructions he would have been told to go home.

He also testified that he doesn’t know whether the investigation stopped and what happened after that because he handed in his resignation after a few weeks.

In this matter, Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempting to pervert the course of justice, while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

The charges stem from a complaint filed by the university in July 2019 pertaining to the conduct of former staff members.

The trial resumes tomorrow morning.

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