Bainimarama sentenced to 1 year in prison while Qiliho sentenced to 2 years imprisonment
The 2 have been escorted to prison in handcuffs

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.


Click here for more stories of the Bainimarama and Qiliho trial

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