Fiji Court Denies Chaudhry Stay, Suspension Of Sentence Request

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Former PM must pay fine, likely can’t contest election despite appeal

By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, May 19, 2014) – Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry's application for a stay and suspension of his sentence for exchange control violations has been refused by the High Court in Suva today.

Justice Paul Madigan said that staying of sentences are only possible in civil cases.

There was no legislative provision for criminal sentences to be stayed.

He said the application was thus not appropriate.

"The application for stay is refused," he said.

On Chaudhry's request for the sentence to be suspended, Justice Madigan said it only applied to terms of imprisonment and not on fines.

The ruling means he will need to pay the fine of $2 million by June end or face a 15-month prison sentence.

It also means that even though he is expected to pursue an appeal against his conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal, he may not be able to take part in the September general election.

The former Prime Minister and Minister for Finance was convicted on three counts of breaching the Exchange Control Act by keeping funds in an Australian bank account without authorisation.

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