31 Oct 2018

Fiji CJ to rule on FICAC appeal two days before election

10:07 am on 31 October 2018

Fiji's Chief Justice is to deliver a judgement on an appeal against political party leader Sitiveni Rabuka's acquittal of electoral fraud on Monday the 12th of November.

Fiji Village reports that Anthony Gates has announced there will be a strict timetable to hearing the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption's appeal.

Former Fiji prime minister and two-time coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

Sitiveni Rabuka Photo: AFP PHOTO / Torsten BLACKWOOD

Last Friday Mr Rabuka was found not guilty of providing a false declaration of his assets, income and liabilities under electoral rules.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is appealing on 15 grounds of fundamental legal and factual errors, according to a statement from the authority.

After an oral hearing set for Thursday the 8th of November, Chief Justice Gates said a judgement should be achieved by the 3pm on the 12th.

That is just two days away from Fiji's general elections in which Mr Rabuka's SODELPA Party is seeking to remove the Fiji First government.

Earlier today, Mr Rabuka's lawyer Lynda Tabuya said her client's rights had been breached as he had been given less than 24 hours notice to appear.

"Mr Rabuka was served by FICAC in the middle of Vanua Levu last night at 7pm so he's had to make his way to Labasa and fly back this morning as soon as he could because the appeal has been listed for 3.30pm this afternoon and it's most unusual and is not complying with the usual three days clear notice that is supposed to be given between service of a summons and the listing in court."

Appeal papers appeared on social and mainstream media soon after the acquittal on Friday before counsel had received them, according to Ms Tabuya.

"We are just speechless and flabbergasted about what's going on," Ms Tabuya said.

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