Court hands former Fijian MP longer jail time

Escorted by police, former Fiji and SODELPA parliamentarian Salote Radrodro stopped briefly to hug her husband one last time before exiting a high court in Suva where she was handed a 36-month partially suspended sentence, 30 months (or two and half years) of which she spends in jail, in what is also the longest custodial sentence to be handed down to date in the corruption case FICAC filed against seven MPs for breaching the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 involving a combined total of more than $150,000.

Of the seven MPs, Mrs. Radrodro is the third MP to be convicted and sentenced following Mr. Niko Nawaikula in May this year and Ratu Suliano Matanitobua three months later.

However, unlike Mr. Naiwakula ($20K-plus) and Ratu Suliano ($38K-plus) who are currently serving 24 months and 26 months of their respective 36-month partially suspended sentence behind bars, Mrs. Radrodro serves a longer term of 30 months with a non-parole period of 24 months. This means that she will be eligible for an early release after she has served 24 months behind bars which hinge on good behaviour.

Mrs Radrodro’s remaining term of six months is suspended for five years.

The sentencing today comes more than two weeks after she was convicted of one count of giving false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining a financial advantage, in the same court, for having claimed $37,920 in parliamentary allowances between August 2019 and April 2020. FICAC contended she was not entitled to the allowance because her place of residence in Tacirua Heights was within 30km of the Fijian Parliament premises. Under the PRA 2014, members of parliament are eligible to receive a traveling allowance if their permanent place of residence is located more than 30km from the place of the meeting of parliament or committee.

The other four include former FijiFirst MP Vijendra Prakash, and SODELPA MPs Simione Rasova, Adi Litia Qionibaravi and Peceli Vosanibola.

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