July 30, 2012

Fiji’s ex-PM found guilty of corruption

Last updated 15:46 30/07/2012

Fiji's last democratically elected prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has been found guilty of nine corruption linked charges.

Qarase was overthrown in 2006 by military head Voreqe Bainimarama who claimed he was cleaning up corruption.

A year after the coup Bainimarama created the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption and eventually came up with the charges against Qarase.

The nine charges relate to his time as a director of Fijian Holdings Ltd, an investment holding company whose shareholders are restricted to indigenous Fijians.

According to state owned Fiji Broadcasting the three assessors used in the trial against Qarase have this afternoon returned a guilty verdict.

Fiji uses assessors rather than juries.

In theory the judge, Justice Priyantha Fernando, can over-rule an assessor's verdict.

He will give his judgment tomorrow.

Qarase was charged with six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty in a property which he has a private interest.

Since the coup Fiji's coup system has been subject to numerous international allegations that it is controlled by the military regime and has no independence.

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