Former Fiji PM guilty of perverting course of justice


Suva: Former Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama was found guilty on Thursday of illegally closing a sensitive site police check,
Bainimarama, a former military commander who became an elected leader, was convicted high Court Leading the South Pacific island nation to pervert the course of justice.
The charges relate to a police investigation into Fiji's University of the South Pacific staff in July 2020, when Bainimarama was Prime Minister.
A magistrate court found him not guilty of the charge in October last year, but the case was sent to the High Court in Suva after an appeal by the prosecution.
Acting Chief Justice Selassie Temo found the former prime minister guilty of one count of perverting the course of justice.
Suspended police commissioner Sitivani Kiliho was convicted of one count of abuse of office.
Temo said the lower court made “legal and de facto mistakes” on several points when conducting the original case, which acquitted Bainimarama and his then-police chief.
Following the guilty verdicts, the High Court sent both men back to the magistrate's court for sentencing on March 28.
A high-ranking university official testified last year that employees initially tried to spread the rumor after falling into an allegedly shady web of bonus payments, promotions and salary increases within the university.
But once these claims reached the police, it was alleged that Bainimarama used his influence to sideline the investigation.
The 69-year-old former navy commodore seized power in a bloodless coup in 2006 and led the Pacific island nation until he was ousted from power in December 2022.
The former leader's legal troubles have escalated since he was handed over power by Prime Minister Sitivan Rabuka.
In February 2023, Parliament suspended him until 2026 after a speech in which he criticized Rabuka.
Only last month, two separate allegations of misuse of position were made against him.
One case pertains to the allegedly unlawful firing of two police officers in 2021.
The second case involved the alleged waiver of a tender bid “without legal justification” while he was finance minister in 2011.

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