Former PM discharged, Qiliho fined

March 28, 2024 12:30 pm

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has been discharged from the charge of perverting the course of justice.

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has been discharged from the charge of perverting the course of justice, while suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho was fined $1500 for abuse of office.

Before handing out the sentence, Magistrate Puamau stressed that she is independent, as is the judiciary.

Magistrate Puamau read out the character references by former presidents of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Jioji Konrote and former RFMF commander Viliame Naupoto.

Article continues after advertisement

While highlighting the charge against the former PM, the magistrate said that there’s no suggestion that the suggestion made by Bainimarama was for any personal or financial gain and that there was no corrupt motive behind the suggestion.

The former Prime Minister was accused of directing the suspended Police Commissioner to stop an investigation into a police complaint on a USP matter.

During the sentencing, Magistrate Puamau acknowledged Bainimarama’s cooperation during the trial.

She said that Bainimarama was respectful, cooperative and present in court through the entirety of the proceedings and that he was a first offender.

She also and considered Bainimarama’s health condition, as outlined in Dr. Jioji Malani’s medical report, which warned of severe health consequences if he were incarcerated.

Consequently, Bainimarama was granted an absolute discharge.

Suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho was fined $1500, which he promptly paid at the Criminal Court Registry following the case.

Magistrate Puamau said that upon the payment of the fine, the court will invoke Section 15(1) of the Sentencing and Penalties Act 2009 without recording a conviction.

Magistrate Puamau said that there is no evidence that the former police commissioner directed former Acting Criminal Investigation Department Director Serupepeli Neiko and Acting Director Economic Crime Reshmi Dass to close the investigation for any personal gain.

Sitiveni Qiliho

She also said that Qiliho was concerned about the duplication of the process.

Following the sentence, the state counsel indicated to the court that they will appeal the sentence.

Meanwhile, a moment of silence was observed to honor late Acting DPP David Toganivalu, who led the state counsel during the trial in July last year.

A large crowd gathered outside the court as they awaited the sentencing.

Bainimarama did not make any comments after the sentence, while Qiliho expressed gratitude to his supporters.