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Ruling: Reddy A Free Man

Ruling: Reddy A Free Man
Mahendra Reddy outside the Suva Magistrates Court on December 1, 2017. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau
December 02
11:45 2017

Former Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy is waiting for the formal announcement of reinstatement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama after he was acquitted of two counts of bribery and undue influence yesterday.

Mr Reddy was in tears outside the court room after being exonerated from what he said were, “charges that were wrongly brought” against him.

“Needless to say, the last couple of months have been very difficult for me and my family and that has been much undeserved,” Mr Reddy said.

“If anything, I have emerged stronger from this challenge and my optimistic view of the matter is that it has provided an opportunity for judicial scrutiny of a critical legislation that has a key role in our democratic processes.”

He acknowledged the support from his electorate and the people of Fiji which he remained thankful for.

“I now wish to return to my Ministerial portfolio to continue on the good work that we have done in the last three years, to increase access to education, promote technical education in the country, improve rural infrastructure for education, ensure rural students are not deprived of similar levels of education facilities as their urban counterparts, curriculum reforms to ensure relevancy, amongst others,” he said.

While delivering his judgment, Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili accorded Mr Reddy the benefit of the doubt and said the court found that the state prosecution had not discharged its burden for both counts.

“As the evidence stands the first count appear to fall squarely within the statutory defence.

“The proposed benefit offered to Waisea Lebobo being a secure water source for Ra High School and surrounding villages and settlements could fairly be described as a promise of public action,” Magistrate Ratuvili said.

He added the state prosecution had not provided any evidence to ascertain how the exercise of Lebobo’s political rights was hindered or interfered with by the accused.

“There is no conclusive evidence as to how a statement made on or about May 8, 2017 will adversely interfere with the registered voter exercising his political rights in a yet to be declared General Election scheduled some time in 2018.”

Mr Reddy was charged with one count of bribery and one count of undue influence. Edited by Caroline Ratucadra


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