Fiji Police Director of Narcotics, SSP Serupepeli Neiko, testified about a conversation with suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho on the morning of 15 July 2020 during the ongoing trial against former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Qiliho.
Neiko who was acting Director CID at the time told the court that Qiliho called him and said, “Director, sega ni kila se cava na vuna o se vakaqaqa tale tiko kina na kisi ni USP baleta ni internal issues. Au via vosa vei investigating officer” which translates to “Director, I don’t know why you are still investigating the USP case because it is an internal issue. I want to talk to the investigating officer.”
Defense counsel Devanesh Sharma spoke up then, stating that Neiko did not mention this statement in his initial statement. Sharma is expected to raise this matter during his cross-examination of Neiko which is scheduled for 3.30pm today.
During the trial, Neiko testified that he returned Qiliho’s call, with investigating officer Reshmi Dass present as a witness. The conversation was on speaker to allow both of them to hear Qiliho’s instructions. Neiko said he heard Qiliho directed Dass to halt the investigation into the USP case, citing it as an internal matter. Neiko stated that he had two conversations with Qiliho on that day. The first call lasted 34 seconds when Qiliho spoke to Neioko in person, and the second call lasted 111 seconds, during which Qiliho spoke with Dass.
Neiko mentioned that after this interaction, he did not hear anything further about the USP case as he was posted to Narcotics in September of the same year. He handed over his post to SSP Mesake Waqa, who had returned from studies in Australia.
Neiko is the ninth and final prosecution witness in the trial which is taking place before Magistrate Seini Puamau in Suva and is currently on its seventh day. The case revolves around allegations of obstructing a police investigation into a complaint by the University of the South Pacific, with Bainimarama facing a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, and Qiliho accused of abuse of office.