531 PI
Niu FM
PMN News

Fiji's former PM Frank Bainimarama is expected to return to court on 2 May.

Photo/supplied

Pacific Region

Fiji judge delays appeal against ex-PM, top cop sentences, opposes magistrate

With no decision on the state's submission, acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo is reportedly not happy with the magistrate who granted the non-custodial sentences to Frank Bainimarama and Sitiveni Qiliho.

Christine Rovoi
Published
03 April 2024, 1:17pm
Share
Copy Link

Fiji's former prime minister Frank Bainimarama and suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho will be back in court on 2 May after Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo adjourned the state’s appeal against their sentences.

Bainimarama and Qiliho both appeared before Temo at the High Court in Suva on Wednesday after their sentences were rejected by the prosecution last Thursday.

Watch an interview below with Jope Tarai, Political Analyst, Australia National University discussing this situation:

Local media reported Temo is considering contempt of court proceedings against Magistrate Seini Puamau, who presided over the sentencing, for not following the orders of the High Court.

Puamau had granted the former Fijian leader and top cop non-custodial sentences including no registration of their convictions.

PMN is US

On 12 October, she found Bainimarama and Qiliho not guilty of corruption related to an investigation at the University of the South

But in an appeal by the state On 14 March, Temo overturned the verdicts and found Bainimarama guilty of perverting the course of justice and Qiliho of abuse of office.

Temo then ordered the matter be brought before Magistrate Puamau on 18 March for her to abide by the high court decision and pronounce both men guilty as charged, and to convict them accordingly.

Qiliho was handed a FJ$1500 (NZ$1113) fine by Puamau last week and ordered to pay it within 30 days or face 30 days in prison.

Temo said on Wednesday that in the 15 years that he had served in the lower court, no magistrate "pronounced publicly or in their judgement when ordered by the High Court to reverse their decisions".

He said magistrates would follow a judge's decision "whether they like it or not".

In his submission to the high court, the acting director of public prosecutions John Rabuku said Puamau’s decision was "unsatisfactory and wrong both in fact and in law and does not reflect the considerations and tariff of cases or matters of similar nature".

Under Section 202 of Fiji's Crime Act, Justice Temo could activate the High Court contempt proceedings and refer the matter to the police.

Bainimarama's lawyers have been contacted for comment.