3 Apr 2024

Bainimarama, Qiliho appeal hearing moved to next month

3:10 pm on 3 April 2024
Fiji's PM, Frank Bainmarama gives a Covid-19 update, with Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho behind him

From 2020 - Frank Bainmarama gives a Covid-19 update with now suspended police chief Sitiveni Qiliho standing behind him. (file image) Photo: Fiji Govt

A court appeal of the sentencing of Fiji's former leader Frank Bainimarama and suspended police chief Sitiveni Qiliho has been moved to next month.

The two avoided jail after they were sentenced, without a conviction, by the Magistrate's Court last Thursday.

The 69-year-old former military commander and 2006 coup leader was found guilty of perverting the course of justice in a case related to the University of the South Pacific. Suspended police chief Qiliho was found guilty of abuse of office. 

Magistrate Seini Puamau granted an absolute discharge to the former prime minister Bainimarama while suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho was fined FJ$1,500 Fijian dollars.

She announced that both convictions would not be registered.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, John Rabuku, filed the appeal to the High Court immediately, calling Magistrate Puamau's sentencing "unsatisfactory".

During the court appearance on Wednesday, the acting chief justice Salesi Temo gave time until the 24 April for the respondents to file their submissions and for the State to reply by the 29th, according to local media reports.

The matter will be called on 2 May for the appeal hearing.

Meanwhile, Justice Temo also said that following the appeal, he will consider whether to institute contempt of court proceedings against Magistrate Puamau.

Last month, Justice had reversed Magistrate Puamau's not guilty verdicts against the two men and ordered for the magistrate to pronounce them guilty.

However, she did not pronounce Bainimarama and Qiliho guilty.

"[Justice Temo] said that in the 15 years serving as a magistrate, no magistrate has ever pronounced publicly or with their judgements when ordered by the High Court to reverse to reverse the decision they have followed the high court decisions whether they like it or not," the state broadcaster FBC reported.

"Justice Temo said Magistrate Puamau will be accorded right to counsel.

"He said he will consider his options of taking her on a contempt of court proceedings."

  • Bainimarama, Qiliho back in High Court today in corruption case appeal
  • State appeals Frank Banimarama and Sitiveni Qiliho sentences
  • Former Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama, suspended police chief avoid jail in corruption case