Bainimarama and Qiliho's Acquittal Appeal

Bainimarama and Qiliho's Acquittal Appeal

By fijivillage
Wednesday 03/04/2024
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

Coverage on the appeal filed by Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku against the acquittal of the former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho


Bainimarama sentenced to 1 year in prison while Qiliho sentenced to 2 years imprisonment

The 2 have been escorted to prison in handcuffs
By Vijay Narayan, Alipate Narawa, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 09/05/2024
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho exit court in handcuffs.

Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has been sentenced to 1 year imprisonment after being found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice in the University of the South Pacific case while suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho has been sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for the charge of abuse of office.

Bainimarama and Qiliho were escorted out in handcuffs to be taken to prison after spending some time with family members in the court room.

While delivering his sentence, Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo says there was a breach of trust and at the material time, Bainimarama was the Prime Minister. He says Bainimarama had taken an oath of allegiance.

The Acting Chief Justice highlighted that Bainimarama's mitigating factors were his medical condition and character reference by two former Presidents.

He has also ordered the Commissioner of Corrections to map out a medical plan for the use of Bainimarama’s medical equipment and charging of his phone for his pacemaker app.

While sentencing Qiliho, Justice Temo says there was a breach of public trust as he was the Police Commissioner at the material time.

He says both prison sentences start immediately.

Acting Chief Justice Temo says that by ignoring the fact that Bainimarama and Qiliho have been convicted, the Magistrates Court had acted on the wrong principle for the orders of the High Court.

He says Magistrate Seini Puamau re-examined irrelevant matters in her sentencing of Bainimarama and Qiliho. He says she was obliged to view and sentence based on the facts given by the High Court which is a superior court.

The Acting Chief Justice also quashed the sentencing by Magistrate Puamau.

He says that by ignoring the fact that both have been convicted, the Magistrates Court has acted on the wrong principle for the orders of the High Court.

Justice Temo has also concluded not to impose any contempt proceedings against Magistrate Puamau. He says her experience will teach her.

Family members were seen in tears in the packed court room.

Everyone except Bainimarama, Qiliho and their families were ordered to leave the court room.

There was a heightened sense of security outside the Suva High Court for the sentencing.

Only family members, lawyers, the media and some embassy representatives were allowed into the court room.

IDs were checked and the general public were not allowed in.

Leader of Opposition Inia Seruiratu, FijiFirst MPs Faiyaz Koya, Rinesh Sharma, Ketan Lal, Vijay Nath, Ioane Naivalurua and Virendra Lal were also in attendance.

There was also a more pronounced Police presence than usual with vehicles being checked upon entry.

A section was cordoned off in front of the High Court facing Holiday Inn.

Bainimarama's attempt to pervert the course of justice charge has a maximum tariff of 5 years while Qiliho's charge of abuse of office carries a maximum tariff of 10 years.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho's charges, the charges say 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 USP.

Assistant DPP, Laisani Tabuakuro had asked the court for a prison sentence and a higher tariff for Bainimarama and Qiliho while defence counsel, Devanesh Sharma asked that the Magistrates Court decision be upheld and if a conviction is entered, the court should show mercy and give a suspended sentence.


We will file application for bail pending appeal - Sharma

Sharma says his clients are very tough
By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 09/05/2024
Defence counsel for former PM Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended COMPOL Sitiveni Qiliho, Devanesh Sharma.

The defence counsel for former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho will file an appeal against the conviction.

Devanesh Sharma said outside the court room that he wished it was a suspended sentence.

He says they hope to apply for bail pending appeal and a suspension of the sentence.

Sharma says they will file this and take their chances in court.

He says this is a process and they respect the court’s process.

Sharma says we have to remember the courts have spoken.

He says his clients are very tough and they have been in far worse situations than this.



Bainimarama disqualified to be election candidate until 2032 after conviction

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 09/05/2024
Former Prime Minister and FijiFirst Party Leader, Voreqe Bainimarama.

Former Prime Minister and FijiFirst Party Leader, Voreqe Bainimarama will not be eligible to contest the general elections until 2032 based on the constitution following his conviction of the charge of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo today.

According to Section 56 (2) (g) of the 2013 Fijian Constitution, a person maybe a candidate for election to parliament only if the person has not at any time during the 8 years immediately before being nominated, been convicted of any offence under any law for which the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.

In Bainimarama’s case, his charge, under the Crimes Act, carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

We are currently trying to speak to the Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu and FijiFirst Acting General Secretary, Faiyaz Koya.




Acting CJ Temo to consider contempt of court proceedings against Magistrate Puamau

By Rashika Kumar, Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 03/04/2024
[L-R] Suspended COMPOL Sitiveni Qiliho and Former PM Voreqe Bainimarama

Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo will be considering contempt of court proceedings against Magistrate Seini Puamau for not following the orders of the High Court in the USP case of former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho.

He will consider the contempt matter at the end of the appeal filed by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions against the sentencing.

Acting Chief Justice Temo says the High Court has found Bainimarama and Qiliho guilty as charged and convicted them accordingly.

He says the Magistrate was supposed to follow that order and at the end of the appeal proceedings, the High Court will be considering whether to proceed with contempt of court proceedings against Magistrate Puamau for refusing to follow the High Court order.

Acting Chief Justice Temo says in the 15 years he has served in the Magistrate Courts in Fiji, no Magistrate has pronounced publicly or in their judgement when ordered by the High Court to reverse their decisions and they have followed the High Court decision whether they like it or not.

He says Magistrate Puamau will be accorded a right to counsel.

He says there is a system in Fiji where the Magistrates Court listens to the High Court whether or not they like the reasoning and after that, parties have the right to go to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court from there.

Justice Temo says this is the system that has been tested.

He says there are various options open to him including activating High Court contempt proceedings and referring the matter to the police for refusing to follow lawful order of the High Court persuant to Section 202 of the Crimes Act.

He says when the Magistrate is ordered by the High Court to do certain matters, they have to follow.

Justice Temo says the evidence is his judgement and her sentencing remarks.

He says another option available to the High Court is to recommend to the President for the tribunal to remove her from the bench on the grounds of alleged misbehaviour.

Justice Temo says another option is for her to resign as a Magistrate because her behaviour has shown the ability to act as a Magistrate is called to question.

Acting Assistant DPP Laisani Tabuakoro says it is encouraging to see that the wheels of justice continue to turn and the Court has seen the red flags in the conduct of that particular Magistrate.

Bainimarama and Qiliho's lawyer Gul Fatima says she has no statements to make with respect to the sentencing delivered by the Magistrates Court.

Acting Chief Justice Temo says as far as he is concerned, Bainimarama and Qiliho have been found guilty as charged and looking at the Magistrate's sentencing, which is a matter considered on appeal, she has gone way off line.

Tabuakoro also moved that Bainimarama and Qiliho be remanded as they have been convicted by the High Court however, Acting Chief Justice Temo says the two have been attending court on time and there is no reason to remand them.

The appeal hearing will take place on May 2nd.

Bainimarama was granted absolute discharge in the case by Magistrate Seini Puamau while Qiliho has been fined $1,500 and this has to be paid within 30 days and failure to do that will result in 30 days imprisonment.

Magistrate Puamau had announced that both their convictions would not be registered.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku says the sentence delivered by Magistrate Puamau is unsatisfactory, is wrong both in fact and in law and does not reflect the considerations and tariff of cases or matters of similar nature.

He has filed four grounds of appeal.

These are that the sentence imposed by the Magistrate against Bainimarama and Qiliho are manifestly lenient and in breach of sentencing principles, case laws and the tariff set in other similar matters and offences.

They say Magistrate Puamau erred in law and in fact when she made a finding that there were no aggravating factors against both of them.

The Acting DPP says the Magistrate erred in law and in fact in considering irrelevant factors in sentencing and that Magistrate Puamau erred in law and in fact when she made a finding that there was no victim and that the offending was a technical breach by Bainimarama and Qiliho.



No conviction recorded and no prison sentences for Bainimarama and Qiliho

By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/03/2024
Former PM Voreqe Bainimarama and Suspended COMPOL Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has been granted absolute discharge in the University of the South Pacific case by Magistrate Seini Puamau while suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has been fined $1,500 and this has to be paid within 30 days and failure to do that will result in 30 days imprisonment.

Qiliho’s conviction will also not be recorded.

The Magistrate says for both Bainimarama and Qiliho, there are no discernible aggravating factors.

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Bainimarama’s absolute discharge is the lowest-level sentence that an offender can get.

With Bainimarama getting the absolute discharge, his finding of guilt is made but no conviction is registered.

Magistrate Puamau got Bainimarama to stand up in the packed courtroom and said for the reasons she had highlighted, she grants him an absolute discharge.

She says in her opinion, Bainimarama’s charge is a trivial violation.

She also highlighted that two former Presidents, including Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Jioji Konrote provided character references for Bainimarama.

Former Army Commander and FijiFirst MP, Viliame Naupoto was the other character reference. Bainimarama's health history was highlighted to Magistrate Puamau where he has undergone a heart bypass, has sleep apnea and needs a machine and electricity for its running, has a pacemaker for his heart and needs his mobile app for it.

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Magistrate Puamau says it seems it will likely result in an incredibly diminished quality of life and potential death as a result of a heart problem, acute sleep apnea and Bainimarama’s reliance on CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment, and his high risk of a heart attack.

She says an inmate is subjected to significant stress, poor diet, and inadequate exercise.

Magistrate Puamau says a fine without conviction for Qiliho is the best for this case.

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She says there is no evidence that Qiliho had directed Police officers Serupepeli Neiko and Reshmi Dass to close the USP case for personal gain.

Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu and Viliame Naupoto also provided character references for Qiliho.

Magistrate Puamau has stressed that the judiciary is independent.

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There was tight Police security at the Suva courthouse.

Bainimarama and Qiliho were found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice and one count of abuse of office respectively by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo, and Magistrate Puamau was ordered to record the conviction and sentence the two.

The court corridors were crowded with members of the public, and the court room was full before 11am when the case started.

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Bainimarama’s attempt to pervert the course of justice charge has a maximum tariff of 5 years while Qiliho’s charge of abuse of office carries a maximum tariff of 10 years.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

The defence counsel led by Devanesh Sharma had asked for a non-prison sentence and the option to be handed suspended sentences for both Bainimarama and Qiliho while State lawyer Losalini Tabuakoro has asked that Bainimarama and Qiliho should be imprisoned for 1 to 3 years and 6 to 10 years respectively.


About 100 people celebrate with Bainimarama and Qiliho outside court

There are too many officers present, you need to go look for drugs - Bainimarama
By Vijay Narayan, Mosese Raqio
Thursday 28/03/2024
Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama waves to the crowd after exiting court.

There was cheering and applause as former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho came out of court after Bainimarama was granted absolute discharge and Qiliho was fined $1,500 without registering conviction by Magistrate Seini Puamau.

About 100 people were outside the Suva courthouse.

Bainimarama wished Happy Easter to many of the waiting supporters before leaving with his family.

Qiliho came out smiling, hugged a few people in the carpark area and walked away.

While greeting his supporters on his way into court, Bainimarama pointed at the Police officers that were present at court and called out, “there are too many officers present, you need to go look for drugs.”



DPP lawyer says sentencing is disgraceful and they will appeal

Magistrate Puamau says what Tabuakoro said will not be recorded as it is inappropriate
By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/03/2024
DPP lawyer, Laisani Tabuakoro leads the prosecution team out of the court room.

DPP lawyer, Laisani Tabuakoro says they find the sentencing for Voreqe Bainimarama and Sitiveni Qiliho disgraceful, and they will appeal the absolute discharge for Bainimarama and fine without registering conviction for Qiliho by Magistrate Puamau.

Magistrate Puamau says what Tabuakoro said is inappropriate and it will not go on the record as they are not allowed to make comments like that.

She says the DPP is free to appeal it.

Tabuakoro then suggested that they take a break for 5 minutes however, Magistrate Puamau said that if the State chooses to leave then it is prudent to do so and she will be taking a minute of silence for late former DPP, Ratu David Toganivalu.

Ratu David was the prosecutor in the case before his passing.

Tabuakoro then asked if they can be excused and was allowed to leave by Magistrate Puamau.

A minute of silence was then observed and following which, Magistrate Puamau again stressed that the judiciary is independent and so is she and you can do what you like with that.

She says when State counsel have had the number of years of service she has had at the DPP’s Office, the academic qualifications she has, dedicated their entire lives, both private and personal, in the study of criminal law; written the number of directives and policies for ODPP, written its Prosecutions Handbook and conducted training for a multitude of years, including and up to national training, then the State counsel can make the comment about her expertise.

She says until then it is best they exercise humility and care.

Magistrate Puamau says she wants to also say this to any member of the public that wants to say something about her.

She says when you have that volume of work experience in criminal law under your belt, then you talk.

The return date has been set for April 28th.


Click Here for the indepth into Bainimarama and Qiliho's Acquittal Appeal : https://www.fijivillage.com/indepth/Bainimarama-and-Qilihos-Acquittal-Appeal-f45rx8/



Acting DPP files appeal against Bainimarama and Qiliho

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/03/2024
Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku, has filed an appeal against the sentence of the former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police, Sitiveni Qiliho in the High Court.

Bainimarama has been granted absolute discharge in the University of the South Pacific case by Magistrate Seini Puamau while Qiliho has been fined $1,500 and this has to be paid within 30 days and failure to do that will result in 30 days imprisonment.

Magistrate Puamau announced that both their convictions would not be registered.

Rabuku says the sentence delivered by Magistrate Puamau is unsatisfactory, is wrong both in fact and in law and does not reflect the considerations and tariff of cases or matters of similar nature.

The State has filed four grounds of appeal.

These are that the sentence imposed by the Magistrate against Bainimarama and Qiliho are manifestly lenient and in breach of sentencing principles, case laws and the tariff set in other similar matters and offences.

They say Magistrate Puamau erred in law and in fact when she made a finding that there were no aggravating factors against both of them.

The Acting DPP says the Magistrate erred in law and in fact in considering irrelevant factors in sentencing and that Magistrate Puamau erred in law and in fact when she made a finding that there was no victim and that the offending was a technical breach by Bainimarama and Qiliho. The Notice of Appeal against the sentence was filed in the High Court this afternoon.




Tight Police security at Suva courthouse as people await Bainimarama and Qiliho’s sentencing

By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar, Navitalai Naivalurua
Thursday 28/03/2024

There is tight Police security at the Suva courthouse as we await the sentencing of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho by Magistrate Seini Puamau after they were found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice and one count of abuse of office respectively.

The court corridors are crowded with members of the public, and the court room is already full.

Bainimarama’s attempt to pervert the course of justice charge has a maximum tariff of 5 years while Qiliho’s charge of abuse of office carries a maximum tariff of 10 years.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

The defence counsel led by Devanesh Sharma has asked for a non-prison sentence and the option to be handed suspended sentences for both Bainimarama and Qiliho while State lawyer Losalini Tabuakoro has asked that Bainimarama and Qiliho should be imprisoned for 1 to 3 years and 6 to 10 years respectively. While speaking in court last week, Magistrate Seini Puamau has said she is pushing back against any suggestion that the number of votes for any person in the box or in the court room matters because it doesn’t.

She says she is not trying to devalue any of the accomplishments of Bainimarama and Qiliho as it is just an interesting fact, but it has nothing to do with this case.

The Magistrate says she will take into account the years of service on the ground by the two.

Stay with us for updates.




Bainimarama and Qiliho to be sentenced today

By Navitalai Naivalurua, Rashika Kumar, Vijay Narayan
Thursday 28/03/2024
Former PM Voreqe Bainimarama and Suspended COMPOL Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho will be sentenced by Magistrate Seini Puamau today after they were found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice and one count of abuse of office respectively.

Bainimarama’s attempt to pervert the course of justice charge has a maximum tariff of 5 years while Qiliho’s charge of abuse of office carries a maximum tariff of 10 years.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

The defence counsel led by Devanesh Sharma has asked for a non-prison sentence and the option to be handed suspended sentences for both Bainimarama and Qiliho while State lawyer Losalini Tabuakoro has asked that Bainimarama and Qiliho should be imprisoned for 1 to 3 years and 6 to 10 years respectively.

While speaking in court last week, Magistrate Seini Puamau has said she is pushing back against any suggestion that the number of votes for any person in the box or in the court room matters because it doesn’t.

She says she is not trying to devalue any of the accomplishments of Bainimarama and Qiliho as it is just an interesting fact, but it has nothing to do with this case.

The Magistrate says she will take into account the years of service on the ground by the two.

Stay with us for updates.




Bainimarama and Qiliho do not deserve custodial sentence - Sharma

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 21/03/2024
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 says they do not deserve a custodial sentence.

While making the mitigation submission in court this morning, Sharma says the starting point here is not jail sentence and in the worst case, it is a suspended sentence.

He says the sentence in both cases is less than 2 years.

Sharma says Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo gave less credibility to the defence's evidence but it does not mean it's to be ignored.

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He says the Magistrates Court has the totality of evidence and the High Court focused on the no case to answer ruling that had the prosecutors case but the Magistrates Court has the defence evidence as well.

State counsel Laisani Tabuakoro and Nancy Tikoisuva will deliver their sentencing submission after Sharma.

Bainimarama has been found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho has been found guilty of one count of abuse of office.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo had ruled last week that Bainimarama and Qiliho have to be sentenced by Magistrate Seini Puamau next Thursday.

Sharma's submission continues.

More to follow.




State asks for prison sentence for Bainimarama and Qiliho while defence asks for non-prison sentence

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 21/03/2024
Suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho and Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

State lawyer Losalini Tabuakoro has submitted that former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho should be imprisoned for 1 to 3 years and 6 to 10 years respectively while the defence counsel, Devanesh Sharma says Bainimarama and Qiliho do not deserve a prison sentence.

In her submission, Tabuakoro says the sentencing should be a deterrent and not for rehabilitation.

She submits to the court to impose immediate custodial sentences and consider the sentence at a higher tariff.

The attempt to pervert the course of justice has a maximum tariff of 5 years while Qiliho’s charge of abuse of office carries a maximum tariff of 10 years.

She says good character is not a mitigating factor however, the Magistrate says she does not think so.

Tabuakoro further says Bainimarama’s health should also not be a mitigating factor as Bainimarama is way younger than late former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase who was 71 years old, had 5 children, a wife who had a stroke and was also on several boards but he was still sent to jail and given a custodial sentence.

She also says Qiliho’s action was prejudicial and harmful to the interest of the country.

The DPP lawyer also says the Magistrate did a wonderful job in the no case to answer which the High Court adopted in terms of what were their responsibilities and obligations.

Magistrate Puamau responded that it was the same hand and same mind but somehow great one way but bad the other.

Tabuakoro says Bainimarama should not be hinting things to the Police Commissioner as there are clear bureaucratic processes and they hold high public offices and had powers.

She says Bainimarama and Qiliho’s lawyer Devanesh Sharma alleges that there are no victims of the offence by Bainimarama and Qiliho but the victims are USP and Fijian taxpayers.

While quoting the High Court’s decision that USP was given $36 million and the Prime Minister had a responsibility to the taxpayers, Magistrate Puamau says the $36 million was not part of the evidence.

While making the mitigation submission in court this morning, Sharma says the starting point here is not jail sentence and in the worst case, it is a suspended sentence.

He says the sentence in both cases is less than 2 years.

Sharma says Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo gave less credibility to the defence's evidence but it does not mean it's to be ignored.

He says the Magistrates Court has the totality of evidence and the High Court focused on the no case to answer ruling that had the prosecutors case but the Magistrates Court has the defence evidence as well.

While Sharma was speaking about an evidence that late DPP Ratu David Toganivalu did not challenge, Tabuakoro objected saying that Sharma is stating facts for the matter which is before the Court of Appeal.

She says they should not be regurgitating the facts of the case as they are there for sentencing.

While adjourning the court for 5 minutes, Magistrate Seini Puamau told Tabuakoro that this is not an American court to which Tabuakoro responded that it is a Fijian court and also said that the Magistrate must caution herself as this is a matter before the Appeals Court. The Magistrate says she really does not see Sharma’s arguments as out of bounds.

Before continuing his submission, Sharma requested for court recordings and says he would like to hear what Tabuakoro had said as he thinks what she said was contemptuous.

Bainimarama has been found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho has been found guilty of one count of abuse of office.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

Bainimarama and Qiliho have to be sentenced by Magistrate Seini Puamau next Thursday.




Magistrate Puamau acknowledges Acting CJ’s guilty verdict for Bainimarama and Qiliho

Bainimarama and Qiliho appeal their conviction
By Vijay Narayan, Karishma Kumari
Monday 18/03/2024
Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

The oral sentencing and mitigation submissions for former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho will be heard this Thursday after their conviction by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo in the High Court last week.

Magistrate Seini Puamau says she acknowledges the conviction entered by the High Court and asked the State and the Defence to file written sentencing and mitigation submissions on Wednesday and oral submissions in court on Thursday.

When the case was called in the Suva Magistrates Court this morning, Devanesh Sharma, the lawyer for Bainimarama and Qiliho, said that he had filed an application for a stay on the guilty judgement of the High Court in the Fiji Court of Appeal, and also asked if there can be a stay on the sentencing process.

After taking a short break, it was decided that a stay on the sentencing process cannot be ruled upon by the Magistrates Court after the higher court had made the ruling.

Magistrate Puamau also stated that she will simply be acknowledging the findings of the High Court.

This was in relation to her entering the conviction of Bainimarama and Qiliho.

State prosecutor, Nancy Tikoisuva highlighted that they are bound by the decision of the High Court.

Magistrate Puamau says you can only convict a person once, and it has already been done in the High Court.

She says it cannot be done the second time.

Magistrate Puamau has also asked the state counsels, Laisani Tabuakoro and Nancy Tikoisuva and the Defence to file their submissions for sentencing and mitigation.

The prosecution did not ask for a remand pending sentence for Bainimarama and Qiliho.

The bail conditions stand for the two as they await their sentencing later this month.

Magistrate Puamau has acknowledged that both Bainimarama and Qiliho have been found guilty by the High Court.

Bainimarama and Qiliho’s hearing is scheduled for Thursday from 11am to 1pm.

Bainimarama has been found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho has been found guilty of one count of abuse of office.

They were earlier found not guilty by Magistrate Puamau.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo had ruled last week that Bainimarama and Qiliho have to be sentenced by Magistrate Seini Puamau on the 28th of March.

Indepth on Case: https://www.fijivillage.com/indepth/Bainimarama-and-Qilihos-Acquittal-Appeal-f8rx54/




Qiliho’s position as Police Commissioner will cease once his conviction is recorded – PM

By Mosese Raqio, Rashika Kumar, Vijay Narayan
Thursday 14/03/2024
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and current suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has revealed that when the conviction of the current suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho has been recorded, he will be ceased from his position as the Police Commissioner.

Rabuka says Qiliho’s pay will also be ceased after his conviction.

He says once everything has been recorded, they will advertise for the position of a new Commissioner of Police.

Qiliho has been found guilty by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo and will be sentenced by Magistrate Seini Puamau on the 28th of March.

The matter will be called on Monday for entering of his conviction, and the sentencing and mitigation submissions will be made next Wednesday.

Qiliho has been found guilty of one count of abuse of office.

The charges against Qiliho say that 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 USP.




Bainimarama and Qiliho found guilty, and to be sentenced on March 28th

By Rashika Kumar, Vijay Narayan
Thursday 14/03/2024

Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho have been found guilty by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo, and they will be sentenced by Magistrate Seini Puamau on the 28th of March. The matter will be called on Monday for entering of their conviction, and the sentencing and mitigation submissions will be made next Wednesday.

Bainimarama has been found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho has been found guilty of one count of abuse of office.

They were earlier found not guilty by Magistrate Puamau.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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.

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Justice Temo today said that he accepts that the State witnesses had proven their case beyond reasonable doubt and Magistrate Seini Puamau erred in law.

The Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku had filed an appeal against the acquittal of Bainimarama and Qiliho.




Magistrate made up her own assumptions without evidence while acquitting Bainimarama and Qiliho - DPP lawyer

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 29/02/2024
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

DPP lawyer Nancy Tikoisuva has told the High Court that the Magistrate in former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho’s abuse of office trial had made her own assumptions and inferences without further questioning the witnesses.

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

They were found not guilty and acquitted accordingly by Magistrate Seini Puamau last year.

In the appeal hearing in the Suva High Court before Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo, Tikoisuva says the Magistrate breached the Brown and Dunn rule that ensures a fair trial.

She says the Magistrate formed an opinion in relation to former Deputy Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu's evidence without giving the witness the opportunity to correct or make a comment.

Tikoisuva says Magistrate Puamau had said that Tudravu came to court with an axe to grind but there was nothing done to prove his intention.

She says the failure to put motive was never put to Tudravu and the Magistrate exacerbated the matter by using the evidence.

The lawyer says the substance to believing the prosecution witness was predominantly on matters that was not raised to the prosecution. Tikoisuva also says none of the police officers were questioned that there was another police investigation on COVID-19 and not about Winston Thompson.

She says in relation to comments by Bainimarama and Qiliho, the defence of COVID-19 and a separate USP case was a fabrication and a recent investigation.

The lawyer says none of the reasons of acquittal were put to witnesses and for her to take it upon herself to make assumptions without any basis, was an error.

She says it was not put to Director CID Serupepeli Neiko and Inspector Reshmi Dass that there was another investigation into USP.

When questioned by Acting Chief Justice Temo that it was the counsel's decision on how they fight the battle and it is their right to apply to the Magistrate to recall the witnesses but nothing of that sort was done, Tikoisuva says it was the Magistrate herself who should have stayed away from analysing the witnesses but because she jumped in and took swipes at the motives of the prosecution witnesses, she took it upon herself to discredit the prosecution witnesses without any evidence and should have recalled witnesses and put matters to them.

She says the Magistrate basically made her own speculations and conjured up evidence on her own and this included her analysis that there were three separate USP investigations when clearly there was only one.

She says the Magistrate fell into her own trap when she said in her judgement that assumptions can make donkeys out of people.

Tikoisuva says clearly, they are in this situation and appealing because of her own assumptions about key witnesses without any particular evidence.

The hearing continues and Bainimarama and Qiliho's lawyer, Devanesh Sharma is expected to respond this afternoon.




Decision on Bainimarama and Qiliho's appeal case on March 14th

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 29/02/2024
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho.

The Suva High Court will make a decision on the 14th of March in the matter where the DPP had filed an appeal against the Magistrates Court decision to acquit former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho.

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

They were found not guilty and acquitted accordingly by Magistrate Seini Puamau last year.

While responding to the DPP's submission during the hearing before Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo, Bainimarama and Qiliho's lawyer, Devanesh Sharma says the court had sufficient material to make the decision and there is nothing unreasonable or perverse about the Magistrate Court's decision.

He says this appeal seeks to create very unhealthy precedences where in a subtle way, the counsel who is appealing is undermining the strategy of the prosecution counsel to lead the prosecution's case.

Sharma says the prosecution also attempts to put the onus on the court to recall further witnesses for further examination.

He says the DPP could clearly have recalled any witness to review anything that the defence had raised but he chose not to do so.

Sharma asks why then is the court being blamed for this.

He says there is a very clear possibility that the DPP accepted the evidence, explanation and the exhibits of the defence.

The lawyer says it is not the role of the prosecution to secure a conviction at any cost and they need to be fair to the accused person as well.

He says this is the hallmark of the late Ratu David Toganivalu and he was not going to secure a conviction because he was a fair prosecutor.

Sharma says the breach of COVID restrictions at USP case was not a recent invention and is refuted by a news article and the defence was available from June 2020.

He says the Magistrate was fair and gave every opportunity to rebuttal, and the court does not step into the shoe of the prosecution to decide.

He says the then Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu was the only witness to give evidence against Bainimarama.

While quoting the transcript of Tudravu's cross examination, Sharma says that Magistrate Puamau had asked Tudravu that what he heard was a statement, 'Oh I suggested earlier to Tuks to stay away from that investigation' and Sharma says Tudravu took that to mean to stop the investigation.

Sharma says Tudravu was asked if he had been a part of the conversation between Qiliho and Bainimarama to which he had responded that he had heard it from the Chairman of the National Security Council.

He says without the minutes of the National Security Council, Tudravu would have gotten away with it.

The lawyer says Tudravu's last comment in the meeting was that he will bring the investigating officer to discuss with the Prime Minister.

He says if Tudravu was not party to the conversation between Bainimarama and Qiliho, then how can he comment about it.

He says when Bainimarama was questioned, he had said he thought the USP issue was about the other COVID investigation and did not know about the USP finance and audit case.

He says it was never put to Bainimarama that there was an investigation into protests into USP and if the DPP wanted to object he could have brought someone from CID to prove this.

Sharma says that Magistrate Puamau said Tudravu has an axe to grind because he came out of the National Security Council meeting ready to tell former Chief of Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution Biu Matavou to stop the investigation in 2020.

He says the fact is that the investigation never stopped.

He submits that the appeal should be dismissed.




Acting DPP will not be the prosecutor in Bainimarama and Qiliho's appeal matter

Bainimarama and Qiliho appeal hearing to be heard in Feb
By Rashika Kumar
Monday 04/12/2023
Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho

Acting DPP John Rabuku has informed the court that he will not be prosecuting the matter where he has filed and appealed against the former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho's acquittal.

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

They were found not guilty and acquitted accordingly by the Suva Magistrates Court in October.

Rabuku says he will not be prosecuting the matter as he had earlier represented Qiliho.

He says the Office has hired someone else.

Meanwhile, the hearing will on the matter will be held on the 29th of February next year.

More to follow.




Incorrect to say that I plan to appeal against Bainimarama and Qiliho’s verdict – AG

Office of the AG to file complaint against Fiji Sun
By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar
Friday 03/11/2023
[Image: File]

Attorney General Siromi Turaga has clarified that a Fiji Sun report this morning is totally misleading, factually incorrect and a gross misrepresentation to say that he plans to appeal against former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho’s not guilty verdict.

Turaga says the Office of the Attorney General will be lodging a complaint to the newly formed Fiji Media Council regarding the Fiji Sun article.

Fiji Sun has reported today that the State plans to appeal the not guilty judgement and that the Attorney General has confirmed this.

Turaga has clarified to fijivillage News that he did not say or divulge anything about the appeal to a Fiji Sun journalist when asked if the State will appeal Qiliho and Bainimarama’s case.

He says he only said to the effect that when the announcement is made at the appointed time, you will be notified.

Turaga says the article is misleading, conniving, false, incorrect and mischievous.

He further says the powers to appeal is vested in the independent Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions only.

The Attorney General adds they will be expressing their serious concern to the Fiji Sun Editor to correct the misstatement immediately.

We are trying to get comments from the Fiji Sun.




DPP files appeal against Bainimarama and Qiliho’s acquittal

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 03/11/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho

The Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku has filed an appeal against the acquittal of the former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho.

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

They were found not guilty and acquitted accordingly by the Suva Magistrates Court last month.

The ODPP says the State’s grounds of appeal centres around the opinion that the Magistrate erred in law and in fact on several evidentiary and procedural issues, thereby resulting in an unfair trial and an erroneous verdict.

They say the State has filed eight grounds of appeal and reserves the right to amend, add or delete any grounds of appeal at the receipt of the court record.

The Notice of Appeal against the acquittal was filed in the Suva High Court yesterday afternoon.




Bainimarama and Qiliho's lawyer to file application against Acting DPP signing acquittal application

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 16/11/2023
Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho with lawyer Devanesh Sharma

Former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho's lawyer Devanesh Sharma has informed the court that they will be filing preliminary applications with regards to the matter where Acting Director of Public Prosecutions John Rabuku filed an appeal against Bainimarama and Qiliho's acquittal.

The matter was called before High Court Judge Justice Pita Bulamainaivalu this morning where Sharma informed the court that they have some issues they will raise with regards to Rabuku being Qiliho's lawyer while he was being questioned.

He says it is a technical and constitutional issue.

The matter will now be called before Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo on the 4th of December.

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

They were found not guilty and acquitted accordingly by the Suva Magistrates Court last month.




Tight Police security at Suva courthouse as people await Bainimarama and Qiliho’s sentencing

By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar, Navitalai Naivalurua
Thursday 28/03/2024

There is tight Police security at the Suva courthouse as we await the sentencing of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho by Magistrate Seini Puamau after they were found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice and one count of abuse of office respectively.

The court corridors are crowded with members of the public, and the court room is already full.

Bainimarama’s attempt to pervert the course of justice charge has a maximum tariff of 5 years while Qiliho’s charge of abuse of office carries a maximum tariff of 10 years.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

The defence counsel led by Devanesh Sharma has asked for a non-prison sentence and the option to be handed suspended sentences for both Bainimarama and Qiliho while State lawyer Losalini Tabuakoro has asked that Bainimarama and Qiliho should be imprisoned for 1 to 3 years and 6 to 10 years respectively. While speaking in court last week, Magistrate Seini Puamau has said she is pushing back against any suggestion that the number of votes for any person in the box or in the court room matters because it doesn’t.

She says she is not trying to devalue any of the accomplishments of Bainimarama and Qiliho as it is just an interesting fact, but it has nothing to do with this case.

The Magistrate says she will take into account the years of service on the ground by the two.

Stay with us for updates.



Acting DPP files appeal against Bainimarama and Qiliho

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/03/2024
Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku, has filed an appeal against the sentence of the former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police, Sitiveni Qiliho in the High Court.

Bainimarama has been granted absolute discharge in the University of the South Pacific case by Magistrate Seini Puamau while Qiliho has been fined $1,500 and this has to be paid within 30 days and failure to do that will result in 30 days imprisonment.

Magistrate Puamau announced that both their convictions would not be registered.

Rabuku says the sentence delivered by Magistrate Puamau is unsatisfactory, is wrong both in fact and in law and does not reflect the considerations and tariff of cases or matters of similar nature.

The State has filed four grounds of appeal.

These are that the sentence imposed by the Magistrate against Bainimarama and Qiliho are manifestly lenient and in breach of sentencing principles, case laws and the tariff set in other similar matters and offences.

They say Magistrate Puamau erred in law and in fact when she made a finding that there were no aggravating factors against both of them.

The Acting DPP says the Magistrate erred in law and in fact in considering irrelevant factors in sentencing and that Magistrate Puamau erred in law and in fact when she made a finding that there was no victim and that the offending was a technical breach by Bainimarama and Qiliho. The Notice of Appeal against the sentence was filed in the High Court this afternoon.



DPP lawyer says sentencing is disgraceful and they will appeal

Magistrate Puamau says what Tabuakoro said will not be recorded as it is inappropriate
By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/03/2024
DPP lawyer, Laisani Tabuakoro leads the prosecution team out of the court room.

DPP lawyer, Laisani Tabuakoro says they find the sentencing for Voreqe Bainimarama and Sitiveni Qiliho disgraceful, and they will appeal the absolute discharge for Bainimarama and fine without registering conviction for Qiliho by Magistrate Puamau.

Magistrate Puamau says what Tabuakoro said is inappropriate and it will not go on the record as they are not allowed to make comments like that.

She says the DPP is free to appeal it.

Tabuakoro then suggested that they take a break for 5 minutes however, Magistrate Puamau said that if the State chooses to leave then it is prudent to do so and she will be taking a minute of silence for late former DPP, Ratu David Toganivalu.

Ratu David was the prosecutor in the case before his passing.

Tabuakoro then asked if they can be excused and was allowed to leave by Magistrate Puamau.

A minute of silence was then observed and following which, Magistrate Puamau again stressed that the judiciary is independent and so is she and you can do what you like with that.

She says when State counsel have had the number of years of service she has had at the DPP’s Office, the academic qualifications she has, dedicated their entire lives, both private and personal, in the study of criminal law; written the number of directives and policies for ODPP, written its Prosecutions Handbook and conducted training for a multitude of years, including and up to national training, then the State counsel can make the comment about her expertise.

She says until then it is best they exercise humility and care.

Magistrate Puamau says she wants to also say this to any member of the public that wants to say something about her.

She says when you have that volume of work experience in criminal law under your belt, then you talk.

The return date has been set for April 28th.



About 100 people celebrate with Bainimarama and Qiliho outside court

There are too many officers present, you need to go look for drugs - Bainimarama
By Vijay Narayan, Mosese Raqio
Thursday 28/03/2024
Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama waves to the crowd after exiting court.

There was cheering and applause as former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho came out of court after Bainimarama was granted absolute discharge and Qiliho was fined $1,500 without registering conviction by Magistrate Seini Puamau.

About 100 people were outside the Suva courthouse.

Bainimarama wished Happy Easter to many of the waiting supporters before leaving with his family.

Qiliho came out smiling, hugged a few people in the carpark area and walked away.

While greeting his supporters on his way into court, Bainimarama pointed at the Police officers that were present at court and called out, “there are too many officers present, you need to go look for drugs.”



No conviction recorded and no prison sentences for Bainimarama and Qiliho

By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/03/2024
Former PM Voreqe Bainimarama and Suspended COMPOL Sitiveni Qiliho

Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has been granted absolute discharge in the University of the South Pacific case by Magistrate Seini Puamau while suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has been fined $1,500 and this has to be paid within 30 days and failure to do that will result in 30 days imprisonment.

Qiliho’s conviction will also not be recorded.

The Magistrate says for both Bainimarama and Qiliho, there are no discernible aggravating factors.

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Bainimarama’s absolute discharge is the lowest-level sentence that an offender can get.

With Bainimarama getting the absolute discharge, his finding of guilt is made but no conviction is registered.

Magistrate Puamau got Bainimarama to stand up in the packed courtroom and said for the reasons she had highlighted, she grants him an absolute discharge.

She says in her opinion, Bainimarama’s charge is a trivial violation.

She also highlighted that two former Presidents, including Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Jioji Konrote provided character references for Bainimarama.

Former Army Commander and FijiFirst MP, Viliame Naupoto was the other character reference. Bainimarama's health history was highlighted to Magistrate Puamau where he has undergone a heart bypass, has sleep apnea and needs a machine and electricity for its running, has a pacemaker for his heart and needs his mobile app for it.

1Z1A0036

Magistrate Puamau says it seems it will likely result in an incredibly diminished quality of life and potential death as a result of a heart problem, acute sleep apnea and Bainimarama’s reliance on CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment, and his high risk of a heart attack.

She says an inmate is subjected to significant stress, poor diet, and inadequate exercise.

Magistrate Puamau says a fine without conviction for Qiliho is the best for this case.

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She says there is no evidence that Qiliho had directed Police officers Serupepeli Neiko and Reshmi Dass to close the USP case for personal gain.

Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu and Viliame Naupoto also provided character references for Qiliho.

Magistrate Puamau has stressed that the judiciary is independent.

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There was tight Police security at the Suva courthouse.

Bainimarama and Qiliho were found guilty of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice and one count of abuse of office respectively by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo, and Magistrate Puamau was ordered to record the conviction and sentence the two.

The court corridors were crowded with members of the public, and the court room was full before 11am when the case started.

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Bainimarama’s attempt to pervert the course of justice charge has a maximum tariff of 5 years while Qiliho’s charge of abuse of office carries a maximum tariff of 10 years.

According to the charges, 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.

For Qiliho’s charges, the charges say 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 USP.

The defence counsel led by Devanesh Sharma had asked for a non-prison sentence and the option to be handed suspended sentences for both Bainimarama and Qiliho while State lawyer Losalini Tabuakoro has asked that Bainimarama and Qiliho should be imprisoned for 1 to 3 years and 6 to 10 years respectively.


About 100 people celebrate with Bainimarama and Qiliho outside court

There are too many officers present, you need to go look for drugs - Bainimarama
By Vijay Narayan, Mosese Raqio
Thursday 28/03/2024
Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama waves to the crowd after exiting court.

There was cheering and applause as former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho came out of court after Bainimarama was granted absolute discharge and Qiliho was fined $1,500 without registering conviction by Magistrate Seini Puamau.

About 100 people were outside the Suva courthouse.

Bainimarama wished Happy Easter to many of the waiting supporters before leaving with his family.

Qiliho came out smiling, hugged a few people in the carpark area and walked away.

While greeting his supporters on his way into court, Bainimarama pointed at the Police officers that were present at court and called out, “there are too many officers present, you need to go look for drugs.”



DPP lawyer says sentencing is disgraceful and they will appeal

Magistrate Puamau says what Tabuakoro said will not be recorded as it is inappropriate
By Vijay Narayan, Rashika Kumar
Thursday 28/03/2024
DPP lawyer, Laisani Tabuakoro leads the prosecution team out of the court room.

DPP lawyer, Laisani Tabuakoro says they find the sentencing for Voreqe Bainimarama and Sitiveni Qiliho disgraceful, and they will appeal the absolute discharge for Bainimarama and fine without registering conviction for Qiliho by Magistrate Puamau.

Magistrate Puamau says what Tabuakoro said is inappropriate and it will not go on the record as they are not allowed to make comments like that.

She says the DPP is free to appeal it.

Tabuakoro then suggested that they take a break for 5 minutes however, Magistrate Puamau said that if the State chooses to leave then it is prudent to do so and she will be taking a minute of silence for late former DPP, Ratu David Toganivalu.

Ratu David was the prosecutor in the case before his passing.

Tabuakoro then asked if they can be excused and was allowed to leave by Magistrate Puamau.

A minute of silence was then observed and following which, Magistrate Puamau again stressed that the judiciary is independent and so is she and you can do what you like with that.

She says when State counsel have had the number of years of service she has had at the DPP’s Office, the academic qualifications she has, dedicated their entire lives, both private and personal, in the study of criminal law; written the number of directives and policies for ODPP, written its Prosecutions Handbook and conducted training for a multitude of years, including and up to national training, then the State counsel can make the comment about her expertise.

She says until then it is best they exercise humility and care.

Magistrate Puamau says she wants to also say this to any member of the public that wants to say something about her.

She says when you have that volume of work experience in criminal law under your belt, then you talk.

The return date has been set for April 28th.


Click Here for the indepth into Bainimarama and Qiliho's Acquittal Appeal : https://www.fijivillage.com/indepth/Bainimarama-and-Qilihos-Acquittal-Appeal-f45rx8/


For full coverage of the Bainimarama and Qiliho’s trial, click here: https://www.fijivillage.com/indepth/Bainimarama-and-Qilihos-trial-4rx5f8/

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