Fiji chief justice overturns not guilty verdicts in Bainimarama, Qiliho case

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Voreqe Bainimarama (left) and Sitiveni Qiliho
Former prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama (left) was charged with one count of attempted to pervert the course of justice and suspended police chief Sitiveni Qiliho was charged with one count of abuse of office. Image: RNZ Pacific

The Fiji High Court has ruled that former prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended police chief Sitiveni Qiliho are guilty of corruption.

Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo overturned the Magistrates’ Court judgment and convicted both men at the Suva High Court today.

Bainimarama was charged with one count of attempted to pervert the course of justice and Qiliho was charged with one count of abuse of office, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said.

“The former PM and the suspended [police commissioner] were found not guilty and acquitted accordingly by Resident Magistrate Seini Paumau at Suva Magistrates Court on 12 October 2023. The State had filed eight grounds of appeal which mainly centred on the opinion that the Magistrate erred in law and in fact on several evidentiary and procedural issues, thereby resulting in an unfair trial and an erroneous verdict.”

The office said that Justice Temo in his judgment found that the magistrate had erred in fact and in law when she found both the respondents not guilty and therefore overturned the Magistrate’s decision.

“Justice Temo found both the respondents guilty as charged.”

Justice Temo has ordered that this matter be brought before Magistrate Puamau on March 18 at the Suva Magistrates’ Court for her to abide by the decision of the High Court and pronounce both the respondents guilty as charged and convict them accordingly.

“Justice Temo ordered both the respondents and the State to file their mitigation and sentencing submissions by 20 March after which the Magistrate is ordered to conduct a sentence hearing on 21 March followed by the sentencing of the two respondents on 28 March.”

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

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