Former Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama sentenced to yr in jail | EUROtoday

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Frank Bainimarama, former prime minister of Fiji, has been sentenced to a yr in jail for looking for to pervert the course of justice within the University of the South Pacific corruption case.

The Pacific island nation’s appearing chief justice, Salesi Temo, overturned Bainimarama’s acquittal by Justice of the Peace Seini Puamau final month and imposed the sentence on Wednesday.

Supporters of the previous prime minister’s Fiji First celebration had been gathered exterior the Suva High Court and so they joined in singing a Fijian hymn after the sentencing was introduced.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, a senior celebration member and former lawyer normal of Fiji, mentioned Bainimarama, 69, would proceed because the celebration’s chief. “Come 2026, we will deal with it,” he mentioned, referring to the following nationwide election.

Bainimarama was accused of attempting to impede justice when he was prime minister.

He allegedly instructed the then police commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho, to not examine allegations of economic mismanagement on the University of the South Pacific. The college is collectively owned by 12 Pacific states and is recognised as one of many prime establishments within the area.

Qiliho was sentenced to 2 years in jail on the identical listening to for abuse of workplace.

Both males have denied the fees.

Bainimarama initially got here to energy after main a navy coup almost 20 years years in the past earlier than successful democratic elections in 2014 and 2018.

He misplaced energy in December 2022 to a coalition of events led by the incumbent prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

“We believe that everybody will follow the law, and for those who don’t agree there’s a court process to follow. That’s what democracy is all about,” Savenaca Narube, chief of the Unity Fiji celebration, instructed The Guardian.

“The court case and sentencing show the accountability framework is working, that people who break the law, doesn’t matter who they are, they are brought to account.”

When he was launched on bail final yr, Bainimarama mentioned: “I served as prime minister with integrity and with the interests of all Fijians at heart.”

“The former prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, and the suspended police commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho, are alleged to have arbitrarily and in abuse of the authority of their respective offices, terminated an active police investigation,” chief prosecutor Christopher Pryde mentioned on the time.

“The police have also been requested to undertake further investigations into other matters arising from this case and more charges may be laid against other suspects in due course.”

Additional reporting with companies