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.
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