Fiji’s former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has denied the allegations against him, asserting that Rusiate Tudravu, a key prosecution witness, ‘lied’ in his testimony in court.
Taking the stand, as the defense began their case, Bainimarama told the court that he was not referring to the USP financial mismanagement investigation when he told ‘Tuks (Qiliho) to stay away’.
Instead, he said he was referring to investigations into breach of COVID protocol arising from a protest at USP during the height of COVID-19.
He told the court he made the comments to Qiliho on the sidelines of a COVID-19 related meeting at the Ministry of Health upon hearing of a protest taking place in USP. Police he said was worried about possible COVID-19 protocol breaches.
Bainimarama said it was then that he advised Qiliho to let the police handle the investigation and focus on the bigger picture.
The protest was highlighted in a media report dated June 2020. A copy of the article was submitted to the court as evidence.
The committee that convened that day comprise of medical professionals, and ministers to discuss intiatives to mitigate the COVID-19 spread.
Suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho who is charged alongside him will also be taking the stand as a defence witness.
Their counsel, Devanesh Sharma informed the court that only the two accused individuals would provide evidence in the case.
More to follow…
Bainimarama is charged with one count of attempting to pervert the cause of justice while suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho is charged with one count of Abuse of Office.