Fiji’s Bainimarama, suspended police chief plead not guilty to abuse of office charges


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By Meri Radinibaravi in Suva

Former Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho appeared before Suva Magistrates Court judge Justice Seini Puamau today and pleaded not guilty to abuse of office charges laid against them.

Justice Puamau stood down the case for 11am as she told the prosecution to provide “substantial evidence” to support the bail conditions it has made.

The conditions set by prosecution include a 8pm to 5am curfew as it has concerns of “high level of interference” with witnesses.

Bainimarama and Brigadier-General Qiliho were charged with one count each of abuse of office after being summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department yesterday afternoon and kept overnight at Totogo Police Station to appear in court today.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Pryde said the charges were for allegedly terminating an active police investigation in relation to the University of the South Pacific in July, 2019, were laid following a review of the police evidence docket which the DPP received on February 17, 2023.

Today’s Fiji Times front page 100323
Today’s Fiji Times front page. Image: FT screenshot APR

“The former prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and the suspended police commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho, are alleged to have arbitrarily and in abuse of the authority of their respective offices, terminated an active police investigation,” Pryde said.

“The charges relate to a complaint laid with the police by the University of the South Pacific in July, 2019 in relation to the activities of former staff members of the university.

“The police have also been requested to undertake further investigations into other matters arising from this case and more charges may be laid against other suspects in due course.”

Meri Radinibaravi is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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