14 Oct 2005

Fiji military commander wins judicial case on spending

4:54 pm on 14 October 2005

The Suva High Court ruled that a government surcharge imposed on the Fiji military commander for overspending the force's 2003 budget was unlawful and reversed it.

The ministry of finance had ordered Commodore Frank Bainimarama to pay a total of 70,000 US dollars which was later reduced to 30,000 US dollars at the rate of 500 dollars every fortnight.

Following Commodore Bainimarama application for a judicial review, Justice Jiten Singh has ruled in his favour.

Justice Singh said there was no improper payment by the military nor was there any loss to the government.

Justice Singh also ruled that the charges were brought under improper financial regulations and that Commodore Bainimarama should have been given an aural hearing to explain his side of the story.

Justice Singh said the decision to surcharge, the amount of the surcharge and the appeal all appear to have been handled by a person or persons close to one another so that the level of impartiality did not meet the test of an independent observer.

He awarded costs against the government.