Qiliho said he cannot recall Bainimarama telling him to stay away from the investigation into USP - State witness

Qiliho said he cannot recall Bainimarama telling him to stay away from the investigation into USP - State witness

By Rashika Kumar , Alipate Narawa
Thursday 03/08/2023
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho and former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The CID investigator who interviewed suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has said in court that Qiliho during the interview at CID Headquarters had said that he cannot recall the former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama telling him to stay away from the investigation into the University of the South Pacific.

While responding to questions by Acting DPP Ratu David Toganivalu in the trial of Bainimarama and Qiliho, CID investigator, Inspector Suliasi Dulaki had read out excerpts of Qiliho’s video interview in court today where he quoted Qiliho.

He says Qiliho had said the only time he recalls Bainimarama calling him was if they were doing an investigation and Qiliho told Bainimarama that he will find out and Bainimarama had said if Qiliho could brief him on the investigation.

During the interview, Dulaki had asked Qiliho if he had briefed Bainimarama on the investigation to which Qiliho had responded that was when he had called the Director CID and at that time he spoke to the lady who was doing the investigation just to stop and summarise the investigation to brief the Prime Minister and also see how they can proceed further because FICAC was doing the same investigation so that Bainimarama could talk to FICAC about it.

Dulaki had asked him was it correct that according to Director CID Serupepeli Neiko and the Investigating Officer who was Inspector Reshmi Dass that Qiliho’s instruction to them was to stop the investigation.

Qiliho had responded that yes, to stop the investigation and do a summary and Qiliho told them to come through the Chief Investigator Intelligence for his input before it came to him and not to file away or close, just to stop it to do that summary.

He had also said he cannot recall the Prime Minister telling him to stay away from the investigation that was already ongoing.

Dulaki had also asked Qiliho that during the process of investigation, does he have any powers to call for a stop to any investigation to which Qiliho responded that in this case he had asked for it to be stopped so that he could get a summary on a case that had become of national interest.

Qiliho had added that he does not normally do it but because he was not updated, he had to take this action.

While responding to questions by defence lawyer Devanesh Sharma during cross examination, Dulaki says as far as the recording is concerned, Qiliho maintained throughout the interview he did not give instructions to close the file.

While reading more excerpts of the interview, Dulaki quoted himself telling Qiliho that they wish to question him on the allegation that between the 21st of August, 2019 to the 6th of February, 2022 while being the Police Commissioner, Qiliho instructed and directed Police to stop the investigations against USP senior officials despite a clear directive from the Office of the DPP to carry out criminal investigations into the matter and in doing so Qiliho has prevented the execution of legal process and such arbitrary act is prejudicial to the rights of USP, an institution under the laws of Fiji.

At this point, Magistrate Seini Puamau intervened and said that the DPP has no power to instruct the police and can only recommend.

Dulaki had also asked Qiliho if he issued instructions verbally to which he responded that in regards to investigations, it is all written and dockets come in written form with recommendations and these are not done verbally.

When asked that in the case of the investigations into USP, it was done verbally as stated by the investigators and the witnesses that they have, and what does he have to say about it, Qiliho responded that he never did that verbally and he would have demanded that it be put in writing because he understands the importance of it being well documented.

He had said when it is filed, it has to have some documentary notes.

Qiliho during his interview at CID had said that he never directed the filing away of the file as it was never his intention, and if he was made aware that the DPP’s instruction were there, he would not have stopped it anyway.

Dulaki had then asked him that in doing so he had prevented the execution of the legal process and such arbitrary act is prejudicial to the rights of USP to which Qiliho had said the file was never filed away by him and it is still open for investigation.

He added that USP Vice Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia is back and the investigations can continue as he never filed away the investigation file.

Dulaki also agreed with Sharma that he misled the investigation by saying that the investigation stopped on 17th September, 2020 when it was supposed to be 2022.

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 and Nimisha Shankar are representing the State.

The trial continues on Monday as the last State witness, former Directer CID Serupepeli Neiko is overseas and returns on Saturday.

Click here for more stories of the Bainimarama and Qiliho trial

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