Bainimarama and Qiliho’s trial

Bainimarama and Qiliho’s trial

By fijivillage
Thursday 12/10/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempts to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.


Truth will prevail - Bainimarama

It will be up to the COC if I return as COMPOL – Qiliho
By Navitalai Naivalurua, Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Thursday 12/10/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho with supporters and family outside court earlier today

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is grateful to his relatives and friends for their prayers after he was found not guilty yesterday afternoon for the charge of allegedly attempting to stop investigations into USP in 2020.

A huge number of supporters turned up at the Suva Courthouse to witness the judgment yesterday afternoon.

Outside the courthouse, Bainimarama acknowledged the work done by their legal team, Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima, in this case.

He also acknowledged the magistrate for breaking the confusion that had been put in place by the CID team, who brought about some what he called trumped-up charges.

The former Prime Minister added that the truth will prevail. When questioned on his next move, Bainimarama jokingly told the journalists if they wanted to dance.

Meanwhile, when suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho was questioned if he would return to work after being found not guilty, he said that it would be up to the Constitutional Offices Commission.

He says right now, he just wants to thank the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bainimarama and Qiliho are free men today as they have been found not guilty for the charge of allegedly attempting to stop the investigations into USP in 2020.

Bainimarama was charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho was charged with a count of abuse of office.

According to their charge sheet, it was alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho were represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, the late Ratu David Toganivalu was representing the State with co-counsel Nimisha Shankar however, Assistant DPP Lee Burney stood as senior counsel.



Bainimarama and Qiliho found not guilty

By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Thursday 12/10/2023
Suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho and Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama found not guilty

Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho are free men as they have been found not guilty for attempting to stop investigations into USP in 2020.

Bainimarama was charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho was charged with a count of abuse of office.

While delivering her judgement, Suva Magistrate Seini Puamau took judicial notice of Bainimarama’s roles and responsibilities, command posts and acts prior to 2006.

She says much as she disapproves of Bainimarama’s actions in spearheading the 2006 coup and while she does and continues to have strong feeling for Bainimarama’s disregard to the rule of law in deciding to abrogate the 1997 Constitution in direct contravention of the Court of Appeal on 9th April 2009, she directed herself that Bainimarama is not here for those acts.

She says her thoughts and feelings for those facts are irrelevant and she must dispassionately view those acts as a matter of history; bad history that she prays is never repeated but history none the less.

Magistrate Puamau says she is not satisfied beyond doubt that Bainimarama told Qiliho to stay away from the USP investigation.

She says Bainimarama would have been aware that investigations into USP protest could result in the Fiji Police Force ultimately invoking the jurisdiction of the court by the laying of charges but the State specifically charged Bainimarama with doing an act, namely by saying to stay away from the USP investigation that was reported and not investigations into a possible breach of COVID protocols arising from the past and possible protest.

She says there is no evidence that Bainimarama was aware of investigations into USP’s financial matters prior to his conversation with Qiliho in June 2020.

The Magistrate says during her no case to answer ruling, she found that there was relevant and admissible evidence capable of implicating Bainimarama of the tendency to deflect the police from invoking the jurisdiction of the court.

She says she no longer holds that view having had the benefit of reading through the defence’s evidence where what was initially presented as potentially dismissive, in its abridged form coloured through former Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu’s testimony of what a terrible environment he worked under in 2020 and the 16 years before, that is now revealed through the defence case presentation and in accordance of due process to be nothing more than a misunderstanding that could have been easily cleared up when some light was shown on it.

Magistrate Puamau says Tudravu clearly came to court with an axe to grind following his dismissal from the Fiji Police Force due to an unrelated event.

She says during his cross examination he admitted on oath in open court that he did what he did because he was afraid of losing his acting position as Police Commissioner yet nothing in the extended transcript of the National Council Meeting, his evidence and his own testimony pointed to a single moment where Bainimarama or anyone else directed him to come out of the meeting and direct the stopping of the USP investigations as he did.

She says Qiliho had testified that Bainimarama had made the comment to him and as the recipient of the comment, he understood Bainimarama to mean to leave this investigation alone, entrust it with the officers under him and to focus his energy as Commissioner of Police on winning the war against COVID-19. Magistrate Puamau further says Qiliho testified that he has never directed of filing away in a phone conversation with former Director CID Serupepeli Neiko and Investigating Officer Reshmi Dass as he understands fully well the importance of capturing the following decisions in nature in writing.

She says Qiliho testified that according to him he directed Dass to stop what she was doing and provide him a brief.

The Magistrate says Neiko and Dass were simply putting down in writing what they individually understood Qiliho to have said, they made these notations not simultaneous to the conversation but after having discussed it with each other and in Dass’ case with another person – CID Manager Fraud Unit Rajesh Kumar.

She says with each successive conversation they moved further away from their pure recollection of the brief conversation they had with Qiliho.

She says they wrote down what they understood and this view was unfortunately coloured and potentially tainted by the subsequent conversations they had with each other and another, it was not a verbatim recording.

Magistrate Puamau says if in doubt ask for clarification, assumptions as they say can make donkeys out of people.

She adds the investigation closed a year and a half after Qiliho’s conversation Neiko and Reshmi Dass.

It was alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho were represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, the late Ratu David Toganivalu was representing the State with co-counsel Nimisha Shankar however, Assistant DPP Lee Burney stood as senior counsel today.




Bainimarama and Qiliho to know their fate this afternoon

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 12/10/2023
Photo: File

Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho will know their fate this afternoon when Magistrate Seini Puamau delivers her judgement in their case.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

The DPP had alleged that during a National Security Council meeting, Bainimarama had told former Acting Commissioner of Police, Rusiate Tudravu that he suggested to 'Tuks' to stay away from the investigation into the University of the South Pacific.

They had established that Tuks was short for ‘Tukaituraga’ - Qiliho’s middle name.

They allege that Qiliho during a phone call with former Director CID Serupepeli Neiko and Investigating Officer Reshmi Dass had instructed them to close and file away investigations.

Bainimarama has maintained that he never told Qiliho to stop the investigation into the University of the South Pacific while Qiliho had said that he did not direct police officers to close investigations.

According to their charge sheet, it is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, late Ratu David Toganivalu was representing the State with co-counsel Nimisha Shankar.



Judgement Day for Bainimarama and Qiliho next Thursday

Minute of silence observed for the late Ratu David Toganivalu
By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Wednesday 04/10/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Suspended Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho will know their fate next Thursday when Magistrate Seini Puamau delivers her judgement.

DPP lawyer Nimisha Shankar and Bainimarama and Qiliho’s counsel Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima will submit their written closing submission by tomorrow.

Following the death of Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Ratu David Toganivalu, State lawyer and Ratu David's co-counsel, Nimisha Shankar had requested time until Monday to file her closing submission however she said she will inform the court and the defence if more time is needed.

Meanwhile, Sharma told the court that he is ready with his submission but suggested that time be given until tomorrow.

He says in light of the tragic incident, he will not be making any oral submissions.

Magistrate Puamau noted that no one more senior representing the State was in court yesterday.

She told Shankar that she has to rise to the occasion, honour her word and file the submission by tomorrow.

The Magistrate says that Shankar’s inexperience was showing as she had said that the defence and the court will be informed if more time is needed to file the State’s closing submission.

A minute of silence was also observed for the late Ratu David in court.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu was representing the State.



Closing submissions in Bainimarama and Qiliho’s trial today

People await the court’s decision after the Acting DPPs untimely passing
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 04/10/2023
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho

The counsels for former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho, and the State are expected to make their closing submissions in Bainimarama and Qiliho’s trial today.

Magistrate Seini Puamau was then expected to set a date to deliver her judgement.

With the untimely passing of the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu, who was handling the case for the State, all eyes are also on the trial on the next step to be taken.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office. It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu was representing the State.



Qiliho maintains he did not direct officers to close investigations

Closing submission to be done next week
By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/09/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho’s lawyer Devanesh Sharma and the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Ratu David Toganivalu will deliver their closing submissions next Wednesday in Bainimarama and Qiliho’s case.

Magistrate Seini Puamau may deliver her judgement the following week.

Qiliho has maintained in court that he did not direct police officers to stop the investigations into USP and that he had said to officers to stop what they were doing so that he could be briefed on the investigations.

While responding to questions by his lawyer in his examination in chief, Qiliho says he never directed former Director CID Serupepeli Neiko and Investigating Officer Reshmi Dass to stop and file away investigations.

He says he strongly refutes what Neiko and Dass have said in court and he knows it is part of a bigger conspiracy.

Qiliho says those who are close to the investigation directly said that senior government officials and police officers told them to find anything to charge him and the former Prime Minister. When questioned why Neiko and Dass understood that the investigation be stopped, Qiliho says he totally disagrees with that interpretation as they have been part of briefings at his office and know the language he uses which has never resulted in the stoppage of the investigation.

He says prior to calling Neiko and Dass on 15th September, 2020 he did not know anything about any investigation into USP.

Qiliho says he called Neiko as he had received a call from either the Prime Minister or his Office about USP staff who had informed the Prime Minister that they were under surveillance and were being harassed.

He further says he has never given a verbal instruction to file away and the call on the 15th of September did not result in the investigation stopping.

He says he found out that the CID had filed it away when he was brought in for questioning earlier this year.

When questioned about officers saying that not following Qiliho’s orders would have been insubordination, he says that was not insubordination as the officers have every right to disobey a wrong directive.

When asked for an explanation as to why a complaint against him was not filed from September 2020 to February this year, Qiliho says it is part of a bigger conspiracy and when the government was formed, one of the first things that came out from Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka was that he could not work with him and the second was from the Minister for Home Affairs who asked him to resign.

Qiliho says he had said he will not as he had not done anything wrong and again said that senior officers had told him that they were told to find anything to charge Bainimarama and Qiliho. While responding to questions by Acting DPP David Toganivalu, Qiliho says he did not stop the investigations and the whole purpose was to support the investigation because it was a complex investigation.

Qiliho further says he always tells the officers to please continue what they were doing and says he told Dass to give her written briefing and continue.

When asked would it be fair to say that Bainimarama asked for a brief, Qiliho says he is under oath now and cannot recall that if it was a call from Bainimarama or from his Office.

When asked again that he had told the investigating officer that he briefed Bainimarama, Qiliho again said that he is under oath and cannot recall.

While responding to Toganivalu’s question that is it possible that Bainimarama told him to stay away from the investigation, Qiliho says he has no doubt in his mind that Bainimarama wanted him to focus on the COVID-19 situation.

Qiliho adds all decisions were not captured in the USP investigation docket where what former Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu and Neiko’s decisions were not captured.

Qiliho adds he disputes CID Manager Major Fraud, Rajesh Kumar’s note in the docket that the file was closed on his directive and adds they twisted his words to try and implicate him because of the pressure they were under.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.



Bainimarama says he never told Qiliho to stop investigations into USP

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/09/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has denied the charge against him and says he never told suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho to stop the investigation.

While taking the stand this morning, Bainimarama says he never heard about any investigation about USP but found out about it later on.

When questioned if he had suggested to ‘Tuks’ to stay away from that investigation, Bainimarama says he had said something along that line and that it was part of a discussion.

He says it happened in June 2020 and not July when he and Qiliho attended a brief at the Ministry of Health Headquarters at the height of COVID-19.

Bainimarama says there were COVID protocols in place at the time.

When questioned by his lawyer, Devanesh Sharma why he made that suggestion, Bainimarama says he had heard there was a protest at USP and he had asked Qiliho who had told him about an incident and a student protest.

He says Qiliho told him there were COVID breaches and there was an investigation on it.

Bainimarama says he suggested to Qiliho to let the police handle the investigation as he had his plate full.

He says he had suggested to Qiliho to concentrate on the bigger picture and let the police investigate.

The former Prime Minister was shown a news article titled 'Police to investigate breach of COVID-19 restriction at USP protest'.

Bainimarama says this was the investigation he was talking about.

He further says he never heard about a financial investigation and when questioned if he got a brief about the USP protest, Bainimarama says he did not and presumed police had continued their investigation.

When questioned about a National Security Council meeting on 17th September, 2020 when Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu had said he wanted to ask about the USP thing and what he was thinking, Bainimarama says he presumed it was the USP saga he and Qiliho had talked about which was the protest.

He says he had then suggested to ‘Tuks’ to stay away from that investigation.

The former Prime Minister says he was lost about any investigation about the USP financials.

When asked if he takes the position that what Tudravu had said was not correct, Bainimarama says Tudravu thought he told him to stop the investigation and the reality is he never stopped any investigation and if Tudravu did then he knows that Bainimarama knows that Tudravu knows that he lied.

He says it is very embarrassing for a Commissioner of Police to come in court and lie.

The former Prime Minister says Qiliho left the military in 2015 and came through the Constitutional Offices Commission and became Commissioner of Police.

He says they both worked under the Constitution and both care for the country under their job descriptions and adds that the Commissioner does not report to the Prime Minister.

Bainimarama says anyone who knows Qiliho knows that he is independent and very disciplined.

While responding to questions by Acting Director of DPP, Ratu David Toganivalu, Bainimarama says he was not aware of any stand off between the Government and USP.

He further says he did not know about any investigation into USP and says that police had it under control.

Bainimarama agreed with Toganivalu that he had suggested to ‘Tuks’ to stay away from the investigation and says in his view he was referring to the protest.

When questioned whether he thought if it was referring to a report by USP Vice Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia, Bainimarama says he did not and he had no idea about that.

He says he told Qiliho to stay away from investigations about the COVID-19 breaches.

Bainimarama says he had no idea what Tudravu was talking about and apparently, they were talking about 2 investigations regarding USP.

He says it was a misunderstanding on Tudravu's part, not on his.

When questioned that when Bainimarama later found out about the investigation about the BDO report from USP and if he was briefed, Bainimarama says he was never briefed. The trial continues this afternoon where Qiliho is expected to give evidence.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

Stay with us for updates.


Bainimarama takes the stand in his trial

Defence will only have Bainimarama and Qiliho taking the stand
By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/09/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is currently taking the stand in his trial while suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho is expected to take the stand today later today

Their lawyer, Devanesh Sharma says they will not call any other witnesses.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

Stay with is for more later this afternoon.





Bainimarama takes the stand in his trial

Defence will only have Bainimarama and Qiliho taking the stand
By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/09/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is currently taking the stand in his trial while suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho is expected to take the stand today later today

Their lawyer, Devanesh Sharma says they will not call any other witnesses.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

Stay with is for more later this afternoon.



Bainimarama and Qiliho have a case to answer

By Alipate Narawa, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 07/09/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

Suva Magistrate Seini Puamau has ruled that former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho have a case to answer.

This means the case will now continue and Bainimarama and Qiliho’s counsel will present their case.

While delivering her ruling, Magistrate Puamau says there was relevant and admissible evidence regarding the elements.

Magistrate Puamau says that on 17th September, 2020 Bainimarama told the then Acting Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu that he suggested to Tuks to stay away from the investigation.

She says she finds that this is relevant and admissible evidence capable of implicating Bainimarama.

Magistrate Puamau says she finds that there is relevant and admissible evidence to prove that when Bainimarama as the Prime Minister and Chair of the National Security Council made a suggestion, the members took it as a directive and obeyed.

She says that was certainly the evidence of Tudravu, a very senior and experienced member of the Fiji Police Force, a man who though physically bigger than Bainimarama was lower to him in rank and standing.

The Magistrate says if only his moral courage matches his size when he heard what the then Prime Minister had suggested to the Commissioner, despite his knowledge that there were investigations afoot , that were potentially meritorious, nearing finality and could potentially invoke the jurisdiction of the court, he turned and directed the CID to stop the investigation.

She says that is enough at this point to indicate that a suggestion by Bainimarama to stay away from investigation has the tendency during his time as the Prime Minister to deflect senior police officers and thereafter the men and women under their command from investigating matters that could ultimately invoke the jurisdiction of the court.

She further says prosecution witness, Reshmi Dass testified that she was shocked when she received the directive of 15th July because it was the first time in her 25 year career that she had ever received such a directive from a Police Commissioner and usually directives relating to an investigation come through the Directer CID.

Magistrate Puamau says she finds that there exists relevant and admissible evidence capable of implicating Qiliho.

She says Qiliho as Police Commissioner knew what the ambits of his authority was and logically then the inference can legitimately be drawn that if he knew what was permissible and the right thing to do, then he also knew what was permissible and the wrong thing to do.

The Magistrate says that is enough at this stage for a case to answer in respect of these elements.

Magistrate Puamau says Bainimarama and Qiliho’s lawyer Devanesh Sharma argues that no right was prejudiced because despite the directive to stop investigations, it did not stop but there is relevant and admissible evidence to indicate that investigations stopped from 15th July, 2020 to 15th October, 2020 and they stopped for no other reason than a senior officer did not know enough about the facts of a particular course of investigations to be able to sensibly prepare for a potential briefing to a politician.

She says the State alleges Bainimarama attempted to pervert the course of justice by suggesting to Qiliho, a person he had been instrumental in appointing to the position of Police Commissioner and a man he knew to be Commissioner to stay away from the USP investigation.

Magistrate Puamau says the allegation is that his objective was to ensure that these investigations never made their way to a court of law, and that by virtue of his position of leadership he was aware of or ought to have been aware of the power his words held, that a suggestion from him did not prefer a certain course could have the tendency to cause those in State service under him to divert from a particular course of action, and that he was aware or ought to have been aware by virtue of his position that investigations were underway, that they had merit and if left to continue unabated, they could result to some charge in court.

She says the State alleges Qiliho abused the authority of his office as Police Commissioner by intentionally directing to subordinate officers to do an act which he knew was arbitrary and in abuse of the authority of his office, namely to stop investigation into the allegations arising from activities at USP, which act was prejudicial to the rights of USP, intending, or at least being aware that prejudice could result thereby, or perhaps being reckless as to whether prejudice would occur as a result.

Magistrate Puamau further says Bainimarama and Qiliho, each have a right to remain silent.

She says she promises that she will not think they are guilty because they have chosen to remain silent.

She says she undertakes to carefully review the evidence to determine if the State has proven beyond reasonable doubt each element of the offence they are charged with.

Magistrate Puamau says Bainimarama and Qiliho also have the right to testify in open court and she indicated that if they choose to exercise this option, they can and very likely will be cross-examined by State Counsel.

The case has been adjourned to 28th September for continuation of the trial.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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



Court to deliver ruling in Bainimarama and Qiliho's case tomorrow

This is not a circus, it is a court of law - Magistrate Puamau
By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Tuesday 05/09/2023
Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and Suspended Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

Suva Magistrate Seini Puamau will deliver her ruling in former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho’s trial, tomorrow.

She says the ruling on the no case to answer application by the defence counsel is not ready yet.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Puamau also highlighted that she is not pleased how full her courtroom is.

She says it is unsafe, potentially uncomfortable and this is because the members of the media in the middle of the trial or towards the end raised with the Chief Registrar the fact that they do not have space to sit.

Magistrate Puamau says if the defendants and their family and all other interested members of the public can be in court an hour before to find a seat, then why can the media be not.

She says the media are not special class, they are an important part but so to are the defendants and the members of the public.

Magistrate Puamau says this is not a circus, it is a court of law.

She then adjourned the case to 3pm tomorrow.

Another bench was placed in the courtroom before the matter was called to allow more people to sit. Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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




Court to deliver ruling on Bainimarama and Qiliho's no case to answer application in September

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 16/08/2023
Former PM Voreqe Bainimarama and Suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho making their way into court earlier today

Suva Magistrate Seini Puamau will deliver her ruling in the no case to answer application by former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho on September 5th.

Bainimarama and Qiliho's lawyer Devanesh Sharma filed additional submissions which Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Ratu David Toganivalu responded to yesterday.

In his submission, Sharma says whatever Qiliho said while he was being questioned and what Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Serupepeli Neiko and USP investigating Officer Rashmi Dass said cannot be used as it is hearsay.

He says the only evidence is that one line statement from the minutes of a National Security Council meeting where Bainimarama had suggested to Tuks to stay away from that investigation.

Sharma says Bainimarama had only suggested and if he had attempted to stop the investigation, logically he would be concerned that the investigation was still ongoing.

He says Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu during the meeting had said that the investigation was ongoing and the Office of the DPP had given directives but Bainimarama said nothing at all after that.

Sharma says if there was any objection by Bainimarama, he would have said something.

He further says there is insufficient evidence and the onus is on the State to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt and the court should not speculate on its own to make a judgement but the Magistrate was left to speculate after the statement by Bainimarama was made.

He also says the statement had said Tuks but the State does not prove who Tuks is.

Sharma also says that the charge against Bainimarama says that Bainimarama told Qiliho but Bainimarama was not telling but suggesting.

He asks where is the proof that it was told to Qiliho and says there is no evidence before the court that a conversation took place between Bainimarama and Qiliho.

The defence lawyer says the context of the conversation between Bainimarama and Qiliho cannot be made in court.

He asks what investigation was Bainimarama talking about and says ‘to stay away’ does not mean to stop the investigation.

Sharma says you cannot ask the court to infer from that.

He also says when Dass was cross examined, she said she disobeyed the order she got in a call from Qiliho on 15th July, 2020 as she had thought it was not right but when the Magistrate had said that this was insubordination, then Dass said it was a directive.

He also asks why did Dass not give evidence before being told to do so.

Sharma also says the USP investigation file was with Director Economic Crime Rajesh Kumar on 6th July, with Deputy Director Economic Crime from 10th July to 31st August and then goes back to Kumar who holds it until 16th October when it is returned to Dass so to say that the investigation had closed is wrong as even though Dass was not actively investigating, it was still open and was with the seniors.

He says Dass did not tell the court that the CID documents were not with her from 6th July.

Sharma says all throughout 2020 and 2021 nothing happens but suddenly, in 2022 Kumar and former CID Director Mesake Waqa decide to file away but neither of them asked Qiliho for clarification who is charged with a horrendous crime yet those who committed the arbitrary act do not face the prejudice.

While responding to Sharma’s submission, Acting DPP Ratu David Toganivalu says the important thing to note from Dass’ investigation diary is that on 15th July, 2020, calls were made to CID headquarters from the Office of the Prime Minister to stop the investigation.

At this point, Magistrate Puamau asked if this is not hearsay to which Toganivalu responded that it was a record directly after a conversation.

Magistrate Puamau says Dass heard it from Qiliho but they do not have her fact checking and she wrote down what she said but it does not make it true. She says she can draw inferences from evidence but cannot draw evidence from a statement.

The Magistrate further says she is convinced that the whole thing about Dass is that it was hearsay.

She then asks that was Neiko’s evidence also not hearsay to which Toganivalu says that it was but he is inviting her to see that Neiko said it was from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Magistrate Puamau says the rule is anything one accused says about another accused person outside court is hearsay and if Qiliho decides to come to court and cut Bainimarama’s throat then that is direct evidence.

Toganivalu then asked for Magistrate Puamau’s view that is it still hearsay if they are not accused of the same offence to which she responded that it is hearsay as they are on the same charge sheet.

Toganivalu also says if you look at the letter from the DPP to interview suspects then that did not happen and if you take that fact and consider that the complainants were written to and queries responded and the file moving for prosecution then there is nothing in the file that says that it happened.

Magistrate Puamau says if Dass did not have the file until 16th October then how can the court accept that the investigation stopped.

She says maybe she had not actioned on it but as far as the institution is concerned the file was active.

Toganivalu responded that no investigation happened until 6th January 2022 when the investigation stopped.

In his final response, Sharma says that they do not deny that the file closed on 6th January, 2022 but it was filed away by someone else.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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



Sharma to make additional submissions on Wednesday for Bainimarama and Qiliho’s no case to answer application

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 14/08/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho's lawyers have been given time until Wednesday to file additional submissions for their no case to answer application.

Magistrate Seini Puamau says by consent Bainimarama and Qiliho's lawyer, Devanesh Sharma will file additional submissions by tomorrow and the court will reconvene on Wednesday for Sharma's and Acting DPP Ratu David Toganivalu's oral submission.

She says Sharma will submit continuation of submission as there is something that needs further expanding.

The Magistrate also asked if there was ever a situation where the Prime Minister and Commissioner of Police are not Prime Minister and Commissioner of Police, and does it matter where they sit.

Magistrate Puamau says she will need guidance on this from the lawyers.

She adds as a judicial officer there are certain places she cannot go and things she cannot say at all times.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu and Nimisha Shankar are representing the State.



Bainimarama and Qiliho’s lawyer files no case to answer application

By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Wednesday 09/08/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho's lawyer has filed a no case to answer application in the Suva Magistrates Court.

While making the submission, defence lawyer, Devanesh Sharma says there was no attempt to pin down if there was a conversation between Bainimarama and Qiliho where Bainimarama had suggested to Tuks to stay away from the investigation.

He asks if this is enough to satisfy that it was an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Sharma says it is the duty of the prosecution to establish when the offence took place as Bainimarama and Qiliho’s liberty is at stake and they face 5 years jail terms.

He says it is not fatal to the case but is necessary.

Sharma says Acting Police Commissioner, Rusiate Tudravu made the assumption that according to him it was ordered.

Magistrate Seini Puamau says she is thinking to ignore what Tudravu assumed because he is not in the charge sheet.

Sharma further says while there is an admission but beyond that the only evidence is Qiliho’s statement.

Magistrate Puamau says apart from that one line where Bainimarama is quoted as saying ‘I suggested to Tuks to stay away from the investigation’, there is no evidence and she agrees with Sharma.

Sharma says the only evidence against Bainimarama is his own statement but it is merely a suggestion and asks if that is good enough to attempt to pervert the course of justice.

He says there is no evidence to show what context it was made in, who it was made to, where it was made and there is no knowledge of the context in which the conversation took place.

The defence lawyer says Bainimarama suggested and never told anyone to stay away from the investigation and where he says Tuks to stay away from the matter or let the police stay away.

He says the court cannot convict based on a one line statement.

Sharma further says Qiliho called the then Director CID Serupepeli Neiko and the investigating officer for the USP matter Reshmi Dass and this evidence is not disputed but they are saying he told them to stop the investigation but Qiliho said he had said to stop the investigation to give an update and there is no evidence whatsoever that Qiliho called to stop the investigation.

He says if we accept there was a directive to stop but Dass carried on with the investigation.

The defence lawyer says Tudravu, former Director of Intelligence, Biu Matavou, former CID Director Mesake Waqa and Director Economic Crime Rajesh Kumar should be charged because they have direct influence to close the file.

While responding to the submission, Acting DPP Ratu David Toganivalu says the statement was an admission of conduct and that is corroborated by Tudravu and the court would have to look at what was meant when the words were suggested.

The Magistrate then responded that there is no context and she does not know what was said before, after and where it was said. Toganivalu says the law allows her to infer.

Magistrate Puamau told the Acting DPP that they could have done some investigation of who, when, where, why, how and what context that statement was made in and that is what the court requires.

She says she is struggling to find the link between what was said and the whole chain of events.

Magistrate Puamau says if Toganivalu had said Tudravu was charged for perverting the course of justice, she would have understood but she does not have the same kind of context and it is not her job to create stories and inferences.

Toganivalu also says that Dass and Neiko received calls from Qiliho to stop the investigation.

Magistrate Puamau has given Toganivalu time until Friday to file a written response.

He will make an oral submission on Monday where Sharma will be given time to respond following which Magistrate Puamau will make a decision.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu and Nimisha Shankar are representing the State.



Defence to file no case to answer tomorrow in Bainimarama and Qiliho trial

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Tuesday 08/08/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

The defence will be submitting a no case to answer tomorrow in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

Yesterday, the prosecution had their final witness on the stand, which is the former Director CID Serupepeli Neiko.

During cross examination by defence lawyer, Devanesh Sharma, Neiko stood by his statement that Qiliho had directed him and the investigating officer, Reshmi Dass, to stop the investigation into USP.

Sharma then went into the Police Force Standing minutes for the 17th of June 2020, where he asked Neiko if he was aware of whether FICAC conducted an investigation into USP.

Neiko said he only became aware of this when the Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho called him.

When Neiko was asked by Sharma if he knew that on the 17th of June 2020, USP had commissioned BDO to conduct an independent inquiry into its financial grievances that it faced with its management and BDO had completed an investigation on the 21st of August, 2019, Neiko said he was not aware of this.

Sharma than questioned Neiko if he was aware of the concerns raised by Qiliho when he said to them to stop the investigation into USP since FICAC and USP had done their investigation so that report is not duplicated, Neiko said Qiliho told them to stop the investigation and it would be insubordination for him to question the Commissioner.

Neiko said they had stopped investigating USP when they were directed by Qiliho on the 15th of June, however, Sharma told Neiko that Dass had continued to question people after the directive and the case was never closed.

The defence will be submitting a no case to answer at 12pm tomorrow.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu and Nimisha Shankar are representing the State.



Qiliho directed us to stop the investigation into USP - State witness

By Navitalai Naivalurua, Alipate Narawa
Monday 07/08/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Former CID Director Serupepeli Neiko, the final State witness in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho, has today revealed in court that Qiliho directed them to stop the investigation into USP.

While responding to questions from Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu, Neiko says on 15th July 2020, he received a call from the Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho, asking him why is he still investigating the USP case and he wanted to talk to the investigating officer.

Neiko says he called Reshmi Dass, who was the investigating officer, to his office, and he called Qiliho and put the phone on speaker to allow Dass and himself to hear the instruction from the Commissioner.

He says Qiliho had asked about why a staff of USP, Ravinesh Shankar, was brought to CID for questioning where Dass replied that Shankar was brought in for his statement.

Neiko says the Commissioner had directed that we close the investigation file since FICAC had revealed that it was an administrative issue at USP and that was from the former Prime Minister.

When questioned if they had continued the investigation after receiving the directive from Qiliho, Neiko says they did not pursue to investigate the matter forward.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu and Nimisha Shankar are representing the State.

The trial will continue on Wednesday.



Qiliho said he cannot recall Bainimarama telling him to stay away from the investigation into USP - State witness

By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Thursday 03/08/2023
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho and former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The CID investigator who interviewed suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has said in court that Qiliho during the interview at CID Headquarters had said that he cannot recall the former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama telling him to stay away from the investigation into the University of the South Pacific.

While responding to questions by Acting DPP Ratu David Toganivalu in the trial of Bainimarama and Qiliho, CID investigator, Inspector Suliasi Dulaki had read out excerpts of Qiliho’s video interview in court today where he quoted Qiliho.

He says Qiliho had said the only time he recalls Bainimarama calling him was if they were doing an investigation and Qiliho told Bainimarama that he will find out and Bainimarama had said if Qiliho could brief him on the investigation.

During the interview, Dulaki had asked Qiliho if he had briefed Bainimarama on the investigation to which Qiliho had responded that was when he had called the Director CID and at that time he spoke to the lady who was doing the investigation just to stop and summarise the investigation to brief the Prime Minister and also see how they can proceed further because FICAC was doing the same investigation so that Bainimarama could talk to FICAC about it.

Dulaki had asked him was it correct that according to Director CID Serupepeli Neiko and the Investigating Officer who was Inspector Reshmi Dass that Qiliho’s instruction to them was to stop the investigation.

Qiliho had responded that yes, to stop the investigation and do a summary and Qiliho told them to come through the Chief Investigator Intelligence for his input before it came to him and not to file away or close, just to stop it to do that summary.

He had also said he cannot recall the Prime Minister telling him to stay away from the investigation that was already ongoing.

Dulaki had also asked Qiliho that during the process of investigation, does he have any powers to call for a stop to any investigation to which Qiliho responded that in this case he had asked for it to be stopped so that he could get a summary on a case that had become of national interest.

Qiliho had added that he does not normally do it but because he was not updated, he had to take this action.

While responding to questions by defence lawyer Devanesh Sharma during cross examination, Dulaki says as far as the recording is concerned, Qiliho maintained throughout the interview he did not give instructions to close the file.

While reading more excerpts of the interview, Dulaki quoted himself telling Qiliho that they wish to question him on the allegation that between the 21st of August, 2019 to the 6th of February, 2022 while being the Police Commissioner, Qiliho instructed and directed Police to stop the investigations against USP senior officials despite a clear directive from the Office of the DPP to carry out criminal investigations into the matter and in doing so Qiliho has prevented the execution of legal process and such arbitrary act is prejudicial to the rights of USP, an institution under the laws of Fiji.

At this point, Magistrate Seini Puamau intervened and said that the DPP has no power to instruct the police and can only recommend.

Dulaki had also asked Qiliho if he issued instructions verbally to which he responded that in regards to investigations, it is all written and dockets come in written form with recommendations and these are not done verbally.

When asked that in the case of the investigations into USP, it was done verbally as stated by the investigators and the witnesses that they have, and what does he have to say about it, Qiliho responded that he never did that verbally and he would have demanded that it be put in writing because he understands the importance of it being well documented.

He had said when it is filed, it has to have some documentary notes.

Qiliho during his interview at CID had said that he never directed the filing away of the file as it was never his intention, and if he was made aware that the DPP’s instruction were there, he would not have stopped it anyway.

Dulaki had then asked him that in doing so he had prevented the execution of the legal process and such arbitrary act is prejudicial to the rights of USP to which Qiliho had said the file was never filed away by him and it is still open for investigation.

He added that USP Vice Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia is back and the investigations can continue as he never filed away the investigation file.

Dulaki also agreed with Sharma that he misled the investigation by saying that the investigation stopped on 17th September, 2020 when it was supposed to be 2022.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu and Nimisha Shankar are representing the State.

The trial continues on Monday as the last State witness, former Directer CID Serupepeli Neiko is overseas and returns on Saturday.



Former Director CID confirms he closed the file on USP investigation after instructions from COMPOL

By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Wednesday 02/08/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama leads suspended COMPOL Sitiveni Qiliho into the court room earlier today

Former Director CID, Mesake Waqa, a State witness in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has confirmed that he had closed the investigation on USP after verbal instructions given by the Police Commissioner Qiliho.

While responding to questions during cross examination by defence lawyer, Devanesh Sharma, Waqa says he did not verify with the Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho if he had given a verbal instruction.

Waqa says he did not see the need for it as he had been briefed by Acting Director CID, Biu Matavou as well as Director Economic Crime Rajesh Kumar.

He confirmed that the investigation stopped on 6th January, 2020 and the file was closed on his decision.

Waqa says even though it was his decision, the instruction came from the top.

When questioned if he accepted the responsibility to close the file, Waqa says he does not accept it as the instruction was given and those giving it should know the consequences.

While responding to questions by Acting DPP Ratu David Toganivalu during his examination in chief, Waqa says after telling the Director CID to file it away, he says he noted that there were some prima facie evidence and that suspects should be interviewed.

The former Director says after getting verbal instructions by the Commissioner, he decided to file away the case.

Waqa says he had three reasons to file away the case.

He says one reason was that it seems to be interference by the government and the Commissioner directed to close the investigation.

The former Director says another reason was to protect the safety of the investigation and the file does not go missing.

He says another reason was for the easy access once there is a change in government, as it is happening right now.

Waqa says when he returned from his studies and took over his position as Director CID, he was briefed by the Acting Director Serupepeli Neiko about investigations into USP.

He says he did not sight any minutes in the investigation file stating that the Commissioner has stopped the investigation.

Meanwhile, Qiliho's charge particular has been amended and he has again pleaded not guilty.

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

Sharma and Magistrate Seini Puamau had no issues with the amendment as they are cosmetic changes.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

The trial continues tomorrow.



CID closed the file on USP after verbal instructions from Qiliho – State witness

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 20/07/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho

A State witness in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has told the Suva Magistrates Court that his minutes in the docket for investigations into USP states that they closed the file after verbal instructions by Qiliho not to carry out further investigations.

While responding to questions by Acting DPP Ratu David Toganivalu, CID Manager Major Fraud, Rajesh Kumar says he got this information from a briefing by Investigating Officer Rashmi Dass.

He says he did not enquire further on the verbal instructions that were given.

While responding to questions by defence lawyer, Devanesh Sharma if Kumar asked Qiliho whether he had given the instructions, Kumar says he did not ask him as it is a disciplinary offence and it is against authority so he cannot ask him.

He agreed that on 25th August, 2020 former Police Director of Intelligence, Investigations and Prosecutions, Biu Matavou wrote a letter to complainant, USP Staff Union General Secretary, Ilima Finiasi.

Kumar also agreed that Director CID Serupepeli Neiko was giving instructions on 21st August, 2020 and CID continued investigations.

When asked if he had until 31st August, 2020 anytime seen a minute from 15th July from the Qiliho to stop the investigation, Kumar says Dass had discussed this with him.

He says he did not put the verbal directive on paper and when questioned to confirm why he never made a file note on the instructions, Kumar says it was not directed to him.

Kumar also says he was never directly involved in direct instructions from the Police Commissioner.

When questioned why he used Qiliho’s directive from 2020 in 2022 to close the file, Kumar says they did try to continue investigations but had to stop it on the Chief Intelligence, Investigations and Prosecutions authority on 6th January, 2022.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu and Nimisha Shankar are representing the State.

The trial continues on 2nd August.



CID Investigating Officer confirms Qiliho had instructed her to stop the investigations into USP

By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Thursday 20/07/2023
Rashmi Dass, former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

The Investigating Officer from CID responsible for investigations into USP has confirmed in the trial of Voreqe Bainimarama and Sitiveni Qiliho that suspended Police Commissioner Qiliho had instructed her to stop the investigations against Winston Thompson and others as FICAC had closed the file, and it was from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Rashmi Dass who is the fifth State witness says on 15th July 2020, she was called into Director CID Serupepeli Neiko’s office where he told her that Qiliho wanted to talk to her regarding the investigations into USP.

She says she asked Neiko to return the call to Qiliho where he called him and put the phone on speaker on the table.

Dass says that Qiliho answered and asked why are they investigating USP because FICAC had closed their investigation as it was an internal breach.

She says Qiliho then said to stop investigating and it is from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Investigating Officer says after the phone conversation, Neiko advised her to update her investigation diary and notebook.

When asked by Acting DPP, Ratu David Toganivalu if she stopped the investigation after receiving a call from Qiliho, Dass says she was shocked about receiving the call as there was a directive from the DPP to call in people for caution interviews.

She says she stopped the investigation after receiving the call.

While responding to questions by defence lawyer Devanesh Sharma, Dass confirmed that the investigation had stopped on the 15th of July 2020 but it had later continued on the directive of the Director CID Loraini Seru.

Dass says she continued with investigations and conducted two interviews in October 2020.

When asked does she know when the investigation actually closed, she said it closed on 6th January, 2022 where Manager Major Fraud and her direct superior Rajesh Kumar on 4th January had written to the Director CID and closing of investigation was done on 6th January.

When questioned on what had happened between October 2022 and 4th January, Dass says as per instructions by Seru, investigations had continued.

The Investigating Officer says on 3rd February this year, she gave a 3 page statement regarding the conversation on 15th July 2020.

When asked why she did not provide a statement like this earlier, Dass says she provided the statement upon instruction from the Taskforce Unit about the conversation.

She has also confirmed that investigations into USP had started again in January 2023 upon instructions, after USP asked for feedback.

Dass confirms that Ilima Finiasi was the complainant who filed the complaint on 8th July 2019 at the Totogo Police Station.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

The trial continues.



Matavou says investigations into USP closed in January last year

By Alipate Narawa, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 20/07/2023

Former Police Director of Intelligence, Investigations and Prosecutions, Biu Matavou has confirmed in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho that investigations into USP closed on 6th January, 2022.

While responding to questions by defence lawyer Devanesh Sharma during cross examination, Matavou says he had retired by January, 2022 but by looking at the docket on investigations into USP, he can confirm that investigations closed on 6th January, 2022.

He says the Director CID and upon the advice of the DPP have the authority to close an investigation.

Matavou also agreed that in a letter to USP Staff Union General Secretary, Ilima Finiasi on 25th, August, 2020 regarding progress on police investigation and Finiasi’s letter to the then Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu, Matavou had advised that the investigation file is with the Director of CID Serupepeli Neiko and the DPP after perusal has advised further investigations to be done.

The letter reads that the investigation team at the CID Headquarters are currently working on the areas that the DPP has highlighted.

While responding to questions by Acting DPP, Ratu David Toganivalu, Matavou says he received a call from Tudravu after his meeting with the National Security Council on 17th September 2020 and told him in the iTaukei language that Tudravu has been advised the investigation is stopped.

Matavou says he asked him who stopped it and Tudravu had said it was the former Prime Minister. He further says he was disappointed at the decision of the National Security Council as the investigations were in the final stages.

The retired police officer says he then called the Director CID and advised him of the decision of the National Security Council.

During cross examination, Matavou confirmed that his written statement relating to these investigations were incorrect and he did not write a letter to the Director CID but had called him and there were no minutes recorded in the USP investigation file by him on the National Security Council’s decision.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

The trial continues.



Tudravu says former PM had suggested to 'Tuks' to stay away from USP investigations

By Rashika Kumar, Alipate Narawa
Wednesday 19/07/2023
Former Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu, former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu has told the court in the trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho 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.

Tudravu says 'stay away' for him means to stop investigations.

When questioned who is Tuks, Tudravu says he is the current Commissioner of Police Qiliho.

He says it is the name used by senior military officers and those close to him and it is short for 'Tukaituraga'.

While being questioned during examination in chief by Acting DPP David Toganivalu, Tudravu says he attended the National Security Council meeting on the 20th of September, 2020 at the Office of the Prime Minister on behalf of the Commissioner of Police who was on study leave.

He says it is very crucial for the members of the Security Council to know about what was going on and what was the government’s stance as knowing that smaller things have happened where the University is involved as they have students, unions and member bodies.

While reading an excerpt from the National Security Council meeting minutes, Tudravu quoted Bainimarama saying that he has suggested earlier to Tuks to stay away from investigations.

Tudravu quotes that he said the issue here now is that the audit is already being done and USP is asking the question because Police are holding things up. Tudravu quotes Bainimarama ‘can we discuss later’ and in the iTaukei language ‘ tou sa veitalanoa ga’.

The former Acting Commissioner says he called ACP Biu Matavou (Chief of Intelligence, Investigation at that time) after the meeting to stop the investigation as it was conveyed by the Chair that they have already discussed the case.

While being cross-examined by Devanesh Sharma, Tudravu says he was briefed by Matavou before the Security Council meeting who had said that the investigation was ongoing.

He says certain procedures need to be followed when closing a case and the Director CID has the power to stop the investigation.

When asked by Sharma if he saw any evidence of the file closing, Tudravu says he does not deal with investigations.

When questioned if he was privy to discussions between the Chair and Qiliho, Tudravu says no as they relayed to him what was discussed.

When asked why he acted on the Prime Minister’s suggestion, Tudravu says they are the Prime Minister and Commissioner of Police and he is just the Deputy and adds he cannot over-rule what they have already discussed.

When questioned that he holds an independent constitutional position, Tudravu says leadership was not easy at that time and they needed to have the government on their side.

He says if he had brought it up he would have been told to resign like later.

Tudravu says he disobeyed and was told to resign.

When questioned what directive he gave to Matavou after the National Security Council meeting, Tudravu says he relayed to him in September 2020 to stop the investigation.

When questioned by Sharma what he expected from Matavou, Tudravu says he just relayed what was said by the Chair, and CID is independent.

Sharma asked was it not his call to which Tudravu replied that the directive was already done by the Chair and the Commissioner and he just relayed it.

He adds he does not know whether the investigation was stopped as just a few weeks later he was told to resign.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Seini Puamau says at this juncture, the lawyers may need to make a decision and said not to waste her time.

She asked if this is all they have with respect to the first count.

They agreed not to call the next State witness, and the case has been adjourned to tomorrow.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

The trial continues tomorrow.



Comments made by former PM to camerapersons of fijivillage, Mai TV and Fiji Sun are distasteful, unbecoming and unacceptable - FMA

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 19/07/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The Fijian Media Association strongly condemns the comments made by the former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to camerapersons of fijivillage, Mai TV and Fiji Sun outside the Suva courthouse, and labels it as distasteful, unbecoming and unacceptable.

Bainimarama told the Mai TV cameraman in the iTaukei language: “Qarauna de dua tacaqe, Au na qai caqeta yani na muna." Translated: "Be careful no one stumbles, for I will then kick his backside."

Bainimarama told a fijivillage cameraperson "watch out, you slip, and then I will kick your backside."

The former Prime Minister also said “he is very smart at kicking things that fall in front of me.”

He said to another fijivillage cameraperson “get out of my face, and stand 500 yards away from me.”

Bainimarama also told a Fiji Sun photographer "kwan kwan" - a derogatory term commonly used to chase away dogs or animals.

The Fijian Media Association finds these comments highly offensive.

The FMA continues to reiterate that journalists, photographers and videographers are doing an important work of informing the public, and threats of violence against them is unacceptable.

The FMA states that journalists have come through a period where they have been beaten, intimidated and abused and will not accept these threats, even if they are veiled, to deter them from doing their duty.



First State witness in Bainimarama-Qiliho trial says Prof. Ahluwalia’s paper was to be confidential

By Alipate Narawa, Rashika Kumar
Monday 17/07/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho leaving court earlier this afternoon

The first State witness in former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho’s trial says the University of the South Pacific Council’s Executive Committee had resolved that the paper by Vice Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia titled Past Management Decisions was to remain confidential.

USP Director Assurance and Compliance Dulari Traill says she was summoned by the Executive Committee on 6th March, 2019 to provide an update on the whistleblower reports.

She says after deliberating the update, she went to her office but was called back to the committee and was advised that the report by Prof. Ahluwalia be handed over to her office for investigations.

Traill says she reported the issues raised by Prof. Ahluwalia and other matters to FICAC on the 17th of April, 2019.

She further says the Council for reasons best known to them, decided to outsource the investigations into Prof. Ahluwalia’s paper on the former Vice Chancellor and others to an independent body, BDO.

While being cross-examined by defence lawyer Devanesh Sharma, Traill agreed that the Executive Committee resolved that Prof. Ahluwalia’s paper be confidential.

She did not agree that her mandate was limited to keeping the report strictly confidential and getting former Vice Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra’s side of the story.

When asked by Sharma that does she agree with keeping it confidential and interview the former Vice Chancellor, Traill says that is a fair conclusion.

Sharma says the BDO report looked at all allegations in the paper by Prof. Ahluwalia where he had a number of allegations against the former Vice Chancellor.

He says the BDO report has looked at every allegation by Prof. Ahluwalia and given it's conclusion.

The defence lawyer says this morning Traill has given names such as Prof. Chandra, former Interim Director Human Resources Dhiraj Bhartu, Executive Director Jainendra Karan, Dr. Anjeela Jokhan and former Payroll Manager Shobna Kiran who were under investigation.

When questioned, Traill agreed with Sharma that BDO covered each and every allegation by Prof. Ahluwalia.

When asked that conclusions were made, she had said that disciplinary processes kicked in and a number of people were terminated and disciplined, Traill said ‘yes’.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

The trial continues tomorrow.



State witness alleges that former Chair of USP Council was interfering in internal investigations with their whistleblower programs

By Alipate Narawa, Rashika Kumar
Monday 17/07/2023
Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho

The first State witness in the trial of former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho has alleged that former Chair of the USP Council, Winston Thompson was interfering in their internal investigations with their whistleblower programs, and the staff were scared to come forward due to fear of getting reprimanded.

USP's Director Assurance and Compliance, Dulari Traill, who is currently giving evidence, says on the 6th of March 2019 she was summoned before the Executive Council about the whistleblower policy.

She further says at this point she and her team were still weighing their options on whether to take the issues forward to the Police or to FICAC to ensure incidents like this do not happen.

Traill says she decided to take their case to FICAC on the 17th of April where she had an appointment with FICAC Director of Investigations, Isireli Tagicaki.

She further says after discussing with Tagicaki on the issues regarding money allegedly being given to certain individuals that were not deserving of it, FICAC tried to get her to join their anonymous whistleblower program.

The State witness says that they made an agreement with FICAC for them to look at criminal matters while her team looked at the internal processes.

She alleges that after her visit to FICAC, Chair of the USP Council, Winston Thompson started interfering in their investigations.

Traill says Thompson was insistent they interview Professor Rajesh Chandra.

She further says on her return from Samoa on the 16th of April 2019, she lodged a report with FICAC who then served USP with search warrants and uplifted records from them.

The State witness says at the beginning, FICAC officers were liaising with her team regarding different personnel or records.

She says after an executive meeting, things changed and the FICAC officers told her that they were given instructions to stop investigating because of a complaint made to them about a leak of documents on social media and that they were now investigating Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

The trial continues.

Stay with us for updates.



State witness alleges in court that former Chair of USP Council was approving payouts outside USP policies

By Alipate Narawa, Rashika Kumar
Monday 17/07/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho outside court earlier this morning

The first State witness has alleged in the trial of former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho that former Chair of the USP Council, Winston Thompson was approving bonus payouts, and remuneration packages with some outside the policies of the University.

USP's Director Assurance and Compliance, Dulari Traill, who is currently giving evidence, says most of the approvals were regarding money allegedly given to people who were not entitled to receive it.

She further says these included members of the University of the South Pacific senior management team at the time.

She alleges in court that these included USP Chair Winston Thompson, the former Interim Director Human Resources, the former Executive Director, the former Payroll Manager and other former executives.

The State witness says their internal investigation was getting to the point where they were contemplating on contacting law enforcement regarding these allegations.

The trial continues this hour.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

Stay with us for updates.



Trial starts for Bainimarama and Qiliho

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 17/07/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho outside court earlier this morning

The trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho has started in the Suva Magistrates Court.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

State witness Dulari Traill who is USP's Director Assurance and Compliance is currently giving evidence.

Stay with us for updates.



Bainimarama and Qiliho’s trial begins today

By Rashika Kumar, Vijay Narayan
Monday 17/07/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho Photo:File

The trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho begins today.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant.

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

Bainimarama and Qiliho are represented by R Patel Lawyers Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima while Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ratu David Toganivalu is representing the State.

Meanwhile in March this year, the Office of the DPP had said that it remained concerned about the conduct of the Magistrate throughout the hearing in the case of Bainimarama and Qiliho.

DPP lawyer, Jayneeta Prasad had made an application for Magistrate Seini Puamau to recuse herself from the Bainimarama-Qiliho case on the grounds of apparent bias however it was denied in March. Prasad had requested to make the application in closed chambers however it was denied by the Magistrate.

The DPP lawyer says the alleged bias stems from comments made in the morning during the hearing on bail where Magistrate Puamau had said "they may come back into power again".

While responding to the application, Bainimarama and Qiliho’s lawyer, Devanesh Sharma had said they oppose the application as there has to be actual or apparent bias that goes to the heart of the fact.

He says the comments were made based on facts.

Sharma adds it is speculation what position Bainimarama may have in the future.

Magistrate Puamau denied the application stating that it does not meet the threshold for actual or apparent bias.

She says she can cite historical figures who came back into power such as Winston Churchill or Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

She further says that is how politics works and that the former Prime Minister, if interested, may stand again and Qiliho is only suspended.

The Magistrate says she did not intend to treat them differently.

The trial is expected to start at 10.30am today.

Stay with us for updates.


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