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Judge Blasts Lawyer Over Behaviour

A defence lawyer’s behaviour was described by a High Court judge on Thursday as unprofessional. Justice Paul Madigan made the remark when he delivered his judgment convicting two of the
01 Dec 2018 11:00
Judge Blasts Lawyer Over Behaviour
Sakaria Serau (left) and Aisea Tuidraki outside the High Court in Lautoka on November 29, 2018. Photo: Nicolette Chambers

A defence lawyer’s behaviour was described by a High Court judge on Thursday as unprofessional.

Justice Paul Madigan made the remark when he delivered his judgment convicting two of the three for­mer Nadi Town Council executives for abuse of office. The third accused will appear on December 4 for a Summary of Facts along with his mitigation.

Justice Madigan said the defence lawyer was abusive and disrespectful to the court and he would bring this matter to the attention of the Chief Registrar. He did not name the lawyer.

He said the defence lawyer failed to understand the rules of evidence and considered himself to be above the direc­tion of the court.

“Whenever he was told he was asking irrelevant ques­tions, he would angrily shout at the court and when told to stop shouting or talking, he would continue in a most aggressive manner,” Justice Madigan said.

“He completely lost objectivity in the trial and when chal­lenged, he would loudly claim that the court had pre-deter­mined the matter, which of course was totally incorrect.

“His antagonistic demeanour and insolence to the court was prolonged and profound.”

Those who were convicted were former Special Admin­istrator, Aisea Tuidraki and another executive Sakaria Serau.

The third accused, former acting chief executive officer and Suresh Chand had plead guilty at the beginning.

Tuidraki and Serau were charged with one count of abuse of office while Chand was charged with a further six similar counts while they were employed by the Nadi Town Council.

In the first count, between December 8 to December 17, 2009, Tuidraki and Serau were accused of writing off the rate and interest payable amounting to $86,792.94 for Pra­jay Investments Limited.

For the six counts, Chand was charged with abuse of of­fice for:

  • Writing off the rate and interest payable amounting to $2174.37 for Daya Nand in the second count.
  • Writing off the rate and interest payable amount­ing to $370.91 on or about March 19, 2009 in the third count.
  • Writing off the rate and interest payable amounting to $15,421.07 for Suliana Wesley and Aliti Wesley on or about November 13, 2009 in the fourth count.
  • Writing off the rate and interest payable amounting to $370.91 for Maharaj Investments Limited on or about March 10, 2010 in the fifth count.
  • Writing off the rate and interest payable amounting to $296.62 for Jyoti Sajita Sharma on or about March 26, 2010 in the sixth count.
  • Writing off the rate and interest payable amounting to $500.78 for Sant Raj and Urmila Devi on or about May 6, 2010 in the seventh count.

 

All the offences were allegedly committed without the ap­proval of the Minister for Local Government, which was an act prejudicial to the rights of the Nadi Town Council and the rate payers of Nadi.

Chand had pleaded guilty to counts 3, 5, 6 and 7 to which the court will now call for a Summary of Facts to be agreed by Chand along with his mitigation.

All three have been remanded in custody and will reap­pear in court on December 4, where mitigation and sen­tencing submissions from FICAC will be submitted.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: nicolette.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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