27 Feb 2013

Former Fiji PM's appeal case continues in court of appeal today

11:20 am on 27 February 2013

The appeal case of former Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase continues today in the Fiji Court of Appeal.

Qarase is challenging substantial facts in the case, in which he was found guilty of abuse of office and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment last year.

The offences relate to activities in the 1990s when Mr Qarase was a director of Fijian Holdings Limited.

Yesterday, Fiji's anti-corruption agency rejected the defence arguments brought by Qarase's barrister Remy van de Wiel in court on Monday.

Mr van de Wiel told the court Mr Qarase did not hold an official office under the Fijian Affairs Act and therefore did not have authority to abuse.

He said Qarase's convictions for acting for the purpose of gain are incorrect as his roles were for unpaid advice and he had nothing to gain.

Senior Counsel Michael Blanchflower, representing the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption, told the Court of Appeal said that there were no objections to the summing up by the trial judge and to the bundle of documents provided as evidence in his Fijian Holdings Limited trial last year.

He also added that the three assessors in the trial deliberated on the evidence for 2 and a half hours.

He stressed that the assessors were given first hand evidence and credible witnesses in the trial.

Mr Blanchflower has questioned why the matters being raised during the appeal were not raised in the trial.