Bainimarama and Qiliho plead not guilty
Matter stood down to 11am to allow State to produce investigating officer in court

Bainimarama and Qiliho plead not guilty

Matter stood down to 11am to allow State to produce investigating officer in court

By Vijay Narayan , Rashika Kumar
Friday 10/03/2023

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho have pleaded not guilty to a charge each of abuse of office.

The matter has been stood down to 11am to allow the State to produce the Investigating Officer in the case and get evidence from him to substantiate the fear of interference by Bainimarama and Qiliho.

They appeared before Magistrate Seini Puamau.

DPP lawyer, Jayneeta Prasad says there are concerns in relation to interference with witnesses as most of the witnesses are police officers.

She says their issues relate tugging on loyalties, physical and verbal interference.

Prasad also says they do not have an issue with granting bail but strict conditions must be imposed to mitigate the risk of interference including handing over travel documents, sureties, reporting requirements and curfew from 5am to 8pm.

Magistrates Puamau says if they have an affidavit evidence then these strict conditions would be considered.

While objecting to strict bail conditions, Bainimarama and Qiliho's lawyer, Devanesh Sharma says the alleged offence took place in July 2020 and the sense of urgency has passed.

He says they are not young boys so that curfews must be imposed.

Sharma says he does not see the need to have over the top bail conditions.

Magistrate Puamau says they have to substantiate with evidence the risk of interference and she cannot follow Prasad's logic.

The charges relate to a complaint laid with the police by the University of the South Pacific in July 2020 in relation to the activities of former staff members of the university.

Bainimarama and Qiliho are alleged to have arbitrarily and in abuse of the authority of their respective offices, terminated an active police investigation.

DPP has requested police to undertake further investigations into other matters arising from this case and more charges may be laid against other suspects in due course.

Present in court are Opposition MPs Parveen Bala, Premila Kumar, Jone Usamate, Ioane Naivalarua, Faiyaz Koya, Viliame Naupoto and Bainimarama and Qiliho's families.

Stay with us for developments.

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