Ex-Fiji PM Bainimarama, suspended police chief found not guilty

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Suspended Fiji police chief Sitiveni Qiliho (left) and ex-prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama
Suspended Fiji police chief Sitiveni Qiliho (left) and ex-prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama thank their supporters and God for their prayers for acquittal. Image: Fijivillage screenshot/RNZ Pacific

A Suva court has acquitted the former Fijian prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the suspended police chief Sitiveni Qiliho.

Bainimarama was facing charges of perverting the course of justice, while Qiliho was facing charges of abuse of office.

According to local media reports, Magistrate Seini Puamau said yesterday the state had failed to establish a compelling case against the two defendants.

The magistrate found both men not guilty for attempting to stop investigations relating to a police complaint filed by the University of the South Pacific in 2020.

“According to their charge sheet, it was alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner [Qiliho] 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,” fijivillage.com reported.

“It was 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.”

Thanked God, supporters
Outside the government buildings in Suva, Bainimarama and Qiliho thanked their supporters and God for their prayers.

“We want to thank the many prayers from relatives and friends that have said on our behalf,” Bainimarama told local media.

The former prime minister said the charges against them were “trumped up” and the “truth will prevail”.

Asked what his next move was, suspended commissioner Qiliho said “that’s the call of the Constitutional Offices Commission”.

“But right now I just want to extol my lord Jesus Christ, I’m going to say my prayers,” he said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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