Bainimarama and Qiliho Case: Closing Arguments Awaited After Accused Maintain Innocence

The case involving former Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has been adjourned for closing arguments next week after the defense concluded their case, with both maintaining their innocence during a lengthy hearing in a packed court in Suva today.

The former insisted he was referring to another investigation when he uttered the words ‘I told Tuks to stay away,’ which forms the essence of the prosecution’s allegations against him. He reiterated this stance during the approximately 16-minute cross-examination by Toganivalu.

Qiliho, who took the stand this afternoon, claimed his words were ‘twisted…conveniently to try and implicate me because of the pressures they were under’ and told the court he believed it was part of a larger conspiracy to find something to charge him and Bainimarama. He informed the court that when he called Serupepeli Neiko and Reshmi Dass and told them to stop the investigation, it was his usual way of instructing officers to ‘stop what you’re doing and give me a brief or drop what you’re doing and give me a brief.’ He said that this instruction had never been interpreted to mean stopping or shelving an investigation entirely. Qiliho reaffirmed this position during his cross-examination by Toganivalu that lasted roughly 35 minutes.

After the nearly four-hour session concluded, Resident Magistrate Seini Puamau directed both the prosecution counsel, David Toganivalu, and the Defense Counsel, Devanesh Sharma, to submit their written arguments by Wednesday, October 4, with a scheduled verbal presentation at 2:30 pm on the same day.

Bainimarama faces a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, while Qiliho is charged with abuse of office. It is alleged that Bainimarama sometime in July 2020 as the Prime Minister directed the Police Commissioner to stop the investigation into a police complaint, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of the University of the South Pacific which is the complainant. It is alleged that Qiliho on the 15th of July 2020 as the Police Commissioner directed the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Serupepeli Neiko, and Inspector Reshmi Dass to stop investigations into the police complaint by the USP, in the abuse of the authority of his office, which was an arbitrary act of prejudicial to the rights to USP.

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