Fiji Court Overturns Not Guilty Verdicts for Former PM and Police Commissioner

The High Court of Fiji ruled that former Prime Minister (PM) Frank Bainimarama and suspended National Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho are guilty of corruption charges on March 14th.

The former PM was found guilty of one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice, and the police chief was found guilty of one count of abuse of office. The charges stem from Bainimarama ordering Qiliho to stop an investigation into a compliant regarding the University of the South Pacific in 2020.

The ruling by acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo overturned an acquittal by the Suva Magistrates Court in October 2023. However, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution filed eight appeals based on “several evidentiary and procedural issues” that resulted in an unfair trial.

Temo agreed with the prosecution’s case on five of the eight appeals in his judgment and that the previous judge erred when they overturned the original conviction. He then overturned the 2023 conviction and ordered both sides to file their submissions by March 20th and hold another hearing to sentence both Bainimarama and Qiliho by March 28th.