Thursday, August 02, 2012

Qarase - the verdict

from w
My response is of course 'He who casts the first stone let him be without sin' or words to that effect.  Aren't we all guilty of some error of judgement and of putting our family and kin up front.  'Insider trading' I suppose is the term used, but the farce of this trial is that it was motivated not for justice but for other reasons. There would be hundreds of people, and more, who use knowledge and influence to assist friends and family.

The sentencing is gaol for one year and of course others with more disastrous crimes against society go about freely.

From a blogsite:

Fiji's last democratically elected prime minister has been sentenced to one year in jail by the military dictatorship that toppled him in 2006.

71 year old Laisenia Qarase was handed the sentence for the 9 corruption related charges at the Suva High Court a short time ago by the presiding judge, Justice Priyantha Fernando.

With Qarase in the dock, Justice Fernando said that the facts of the case have been established that Qarase as advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board, advisor of the Great Council of Chiefs and director of FHL applied for Class A FHL shares and then facilitated the issuance and allotment of the shares to Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Q-Ten Investments Limited and Mavana Investments Limited.  

During the sentencing Justice Fernando told Qarase that he failed to disclose his interest in the three companies to FHL, FAB and GCC.

Security boosted at court
Justice Fernando said that Qarase held very high office in the public sector as he was a financial advisor in the government and the public vested their trust in him.

He said Qarase had a duty to safeguard the interests of the Fijian people but he applied for shares for companies in which he had a private interest. 

Justice Fernando said Qarase has breached the trust of the people. 

The judge said he considered all the things said about Qarase in mitigation: that he is 71 years old, has five children and 15 grandchildren, his wife has health issues, he is a first offender, the offence was committed 20 years ago, his diabetic condition is worsening and other health conditions.        

He started the sentence at 18 months imprisonment for the six counts of abuse of office then reduced it to 12 months imprisonment. 

Qarase has been given 30 days to appeal the prison sentence and his lawyer, Tupou Draunidalo confirmed that she will appeal the sentence on Monday. 

Following the sentencing, Qarase hugged his lawyers and his wife, Leba. 

He was then escorted by police officers to the back end of the court house, got into a police vehicle and taken to prison.

In a country widely known to no longer have a rule of law, Qarase's  conviction was driven always by the coterie that has robbed Fiji citizens of so many of their rights, the illegal attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, the illegal chief justice, Anthony Gates, and the former high court judge, Nazhat Shameem.

He was appointed, of course, by Frank Bainimarama as a caretaker prime minister after the George Speight coup but was soon toppled, with Bainimarama refusing to relinquish power ever since. 
Hundreds of Qarase's suppporters were at court today as they were yesterday, despite warnings from police it had boosted security and was ready for trouble.

The numbers in spite of the restrictions over large groups gathering is a testament to support for Qarase and dislike of the regime. 

That dislike, driven underground by the relentless decrees, will have no doubt been fueled by the decision to go after Qarase using 'crimes' going back more than a decade and where the key players are no longer around to argue the murky details.

New Zealand's apparent indifference to Qarase's fate will no doubt be noted as well, given the u-turn on its position on Fiji this week in the unproven belief elections and freeom will finally come to Fiji. 

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