Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho are free men as they have been found not guilty of attempting to stop investigations into USP in 2020.
Bainimarama was charged with a count of attempt to pervert the course of justice while Qiliho was charged with a count of abuse of office.
While delivering her judgement, Suva Magistrate Seini Puamau took judicial notice of Bainimarama’s roles and responsibilities, command posts and acts prior to 2006.
She says much as she disapproves of Bainimarama’s actions in spearheading the 2006 coup and while she does and continues to have strong feelings for Bainimarama’s disregard for the rule of law in deciding to abrogate the 1997 Constitution in direct contravention of the Court of Appeal on 9th April 2009, she directed herself that Bainimarama is not here for those acts.
She says her thoughts and feelings for those facts are irrelevant and she must dispassionately view those acts as a matter of history; bad history that she prays is never repeated but history nonetheless.
Magistrate Puamau says she is not satisfied beyond doubt that Bainimarama told Qiliho to stay away from the USP investigation.
She says Bainimarama would have been aware that investigations into USP protests could result in the Fiji Police Force ultimately invoking the jurisdiction of the court by the laying of charges but the State specifically charged Bainimarama with doing an act, namely by saying to stay away from the USP investigation that was reported and not investigations into a possible breach of COVID protocols arising from the past and possible protest.
She says there is no evidence that Bainimarama was aware of investigations into USP’s financial matters prior to his conversation with Qiliho in June 2020.
The Magistrate says during her no case-to-answer ruling, she found that there was relevant and admissible evidence capable of implicating Bainimarama of the tendency to deflect the police from invoking the jurisdiction of the court.
She says she no longer holds that view having had the benefit of reading through the defence’s evidence where what was initially presented as potentially dismissive, in its abridged form coloured through former Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu’s testimony of what a terrible environment he worked under in 2020 and the 16 years before, that is now revealed through the defence case presentation and in accordance of due process to be nothing more than a misunderstanding that could have been easily cleared up when some light was shown on it.
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