NEWS

SODELPA Leader Walks Free

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka walked out of the Suva Magistrates Court with a big smile as his supporters cheered for him after he was acquitted yesterday. The courtroom was filled
27 Oct 2018 13:11
SODELPA Leader Walks Free
SODELPA Leader Sitiveni Rabuka leaving Court with his party supporters after he was acquitted on October 26, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka walked out of the Suva Magistrates Court with a big smile as his supporters cheered for him after he was acquitted yesterday.

The courtroom was filled with SODELPA members and supporters who applauded after Magistrate Jioji Boseiwaqa announced Rabuka’s acquittal.

More than 30 people were inside the small courtroom and more than 100 were outside wearing blue and holding SODELPA’s flag as they cheered when Rabuka walked out of the Magistrates Court.

Rabuka was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) with one count of providing false declaration of assets, income and liabilities under the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and disclosures) Act of 2013.

FICAC had alleged that in 2017, Rabuka had provided a false declaration of assets and liabilities to the Supervisor of Elections by failing to provide information pertaining to his tax liability with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services (FRCS) which amounted to $316,956.20.

He allegedly also failed to declare the Investment and interest income with Ragwhan Constructions Limited in the amount of $200,000 and $16,000 respectively and also his liability in the amount of $120,000.

While delivering the judgement, Magistrate Boseiwaqa said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Rabuka’s failure to not declare his assets and liabilities was either deliberate or an oversight.

“The court had to look at the other elements of whether SODELPA was a registered political party and whether it was an oversight or deliberate.

“After looking at the evidence, the court finds that the prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that SODELPA is a registered political party and finds Rabuka not guilty as charged.”

During the trial period last week, Rabuka was represented by Queen’s Counsel Ian Lloyd, lawyers Lynda Tabuya and Filimoni Vosarogo.

FICAC was represented by senior lawyers Rashmi Aslam and Sam Savumiramira.

Rabuka was also charged with one count of breach of bail conditions.

He was alleged to have approached and interfered with a witness connected with his first charge, which was against a condition imposed by the court while granting him bail in relation to his substantive matter.

Mr Vosarogo informed the court that they would speak with FICAC to see whether they still want to continue with the matter as he is acquitted for the substantive matter.

The breach of bail condition matter was adjourned to November 23.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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