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Ex-Fiji prime minister sentenced to prison for interfering in criminal investigation

Voreqe Bainimarama, former prime minister of Fiji Voreqe Bainimarama, former prime minister of Fiji

Voreqe Bainimarama, former prime minister of Fiji, has been convicted for interfering in a criminal investigation while he was in power.

Salesi Temo, presiding judge, sentenced the 70-year-old in Suva, the capital, to one year in prison.

Sitiveni Qiliho, suspended police commissioner, was also convicted for his involvement in the case.

Bainimarama was found guilty of one-count of attempt to pervert the course of justice, while Qiliho was found guilty of one-count of abuse of office.

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BACKGROUND

Bainimarama was prime minister of the tropical island nation in 2019 when he ended a police investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement at the University of the South Pacific.

The university administration had filed cases of funding abuse and mismanagement that they said had been going on for a decade.

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Prosecutors said the prime minister and police commissioner ended an active police investigation into implicated former university staff members.

The prosecutors added that authorities were continuing their investigation and could press more charges.

Bainimarama had led his government for 16 years, first as a military dictator following a 2006 coup, and then as a prime minister who was democratically elected in 2014 and 2018.

After the 2022 election, he was succeeded by Sitiveni Rabuka, who first seized power as a coup leader in 1987.

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A magistrate court had acquitted Bainimarama and Qiliho of all charges in 2023, but the state filed an appeal against their acquittal.

 

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