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

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.

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