Sharma files no case to answer, judgement next Monday

August 9, 2023 4:49 pm

A no case to answer submission has been filed in the case against former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

Defense Lawyer Devanesh Sharma filed the submission today while making a number of arguments.

Earlier on, Former Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu told the court during cross-examination that the Chair of the National Security Council and Prime Minister at that time had suggested to ‘Tuks’ to stay away from the investigation into USP.

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Sharma questioned if the statement made by Bainimarama was enough for the court to be satisfied that he was attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He adds that the question that comes to mind is what the context of that conversation was.

Sharma argued that apart from that one-line statement, there is no other evidence.

He adds that the only evidence against the first accused (Bainimarama) is his own statement.

Sharma says Bainimarama’s statement was not that he told the second accused to stop the investigation, saying he was making a suggestion.

It is alleged that Qiliho, on July 15, 2020, as the Police Commissioner, directed the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Serupepeli Neiko, and Inspector Reshmi Dass to stop the investigation into the police complaint by the University of the South Pacific in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of USP.

However, Sharma says that in Qiliho’s caution interview, he mentioned that he had asked for the investigation to be halted so that he could receive a summary in order to see how to proceed with the case and that, in his opinion, the case was still open.

Director of Public Prosecutions David Toganivalu gave a verbal response but will be providing a written response by Friday.

Toganivalu will also make an oral submission on Monday.

Sharma will be given time to respond, following which Magistrate Seini Puamau will make a decision.

Puamau will deliver her judgment in the submission at 11am on Monday.

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 of the South Pacific in July 2019 pertaining to the conduct of former staff members.

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