Fiji High Court Finds Laisenia Qarase Guilty On All Charges

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Bail application accepted, sentence submissions forthcoming

By Ropate Valemei

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 31, 2012) – The Suva High Court today has upheld the assessors’ decision on former director of Fijian Holdings Limited (FHL) Laisenia Qarase's guilty opinion.

High Court Judge Justice Priyantha Fernando found Qarase guilty of six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty with respect to a property in which he has a private interest.

It was alleged Qarase between 1992 to 2000 while employed as a director of Fijian Holdings Limited, Financial Advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board and advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs, in abuse of the authority of his office, did arbitrary acts.

He was alleged to have applied in the name of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Mavana Investments Limited and a family owned company named Q-Ten Investments Limited for the issuance and allotment of Class A shares in Fijian Holdings Limited.

Defence lawyer Tupou Draunidalo put in application for bail pending sentencing where the prosecution lawyer Michael Blanchflower said they did not object to the bail application.

The court accepted Qarase’s bail on the ground to have a same bail condition.

But he has to report to the Samabula Police Station from 3pm to 5pm and was asked by the court not to breach his bail condition.

The FICAC also confirmed that Qarase’s travel documents are all surrendered. The court ordered for the mitigation submission by defense and a sentencing submission by prosecution.

The case is adjourned for tomorrow morning for the submission by the two parties. Justice Fernando will rule on Qarase’s sentence after going through the submissions.

[PIR editor’s note: Former defense and immigration minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau has said that public reactions "will be hard to gauge" in Fiji: "Not much public view is entertained through the media and the newspapers in particular, but all we see and hear is the view of the government, if you were to ask the individual Fijian on the street, you may have a different opinions and yet we don’t get to see much of that reported in the papers."]

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