Bainimarama says he never told Qiliho to stop investigations into USP

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.



Click here for more stories of the Bainimarama and Qiliho trial

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