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No charges to be laid against PM

October 17, 2019 12:50 pm
No charges will be laid against the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde, has decided that no charges will be laid against the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

This is in relation to allegations that he assaulted National Federation Party Member of Parliament, Pio Tikoduadua in the parliamentary precincts on 9th August 2019.

Pryde says under section 73 of the Constitution, Parliament has the power to discipline members of Parliament.

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He adds that those powers are further particularised under the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1965 which provides for the prosecution of offences such as assault committed by one member against another member.

Pryde clarified that under section 20 of that Act, a person found guilty by Parliament for the offence of assault is liable to a fine of $400 or to imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or both.

The DPP stressed that as the altercation occurred within the precincts of Parliament, the Speaker exercised his authority and referred the matter to the Privileges Committee to hear evidence of the matter and to make findings on the allegation.

Those findings were accepted by Parliament which then endorsed and implemented a penalty.

Pryde explained that the constitutional separation of powers doctrine applies to prevent the courts and the executive from interfering with a decision made by Parliament in the exercise of its constitutional authority.

He adds that as the matter has now been dealt with by the Privileges Committee and those findings and recommendations have been accepted by Parliament, it would not be in the public interest for a second hearing to take place before the judiciary in the criminal courts.

Pryde stressed that this would, in effect, be subjecting the Prime Minister to double jeopardy contrary to section 14 (1) (b) of the Constitution after his matter has already been adjudicated on by the Privileges Committee and a decision made by Parliament after hearing the evidence from witnesses.

He says had the matter not been heard by the Privileges Committee and dealt with by Parliament, there was sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court.

Pryde highlighted that accordingly, for these reasons, there will be no further action on this file and the matter is now closed and the police docket has been returned to the police.

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