Court News

Judge Dismisses MP’s Application To Challenge Charges

FICAC charged Radrodro with one count of giving false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining financial advantage.
22 Jun 2022 16:47
Judge Dismisses MP’s Application To Challenge Charges
SODELPA Member of Parliament Salote Radrodro outside the High Court in Suva. File Photo: Ashna Kumar

The Anti-Corruption High Court of Suva has dismissed an application filed by lawyer Simione Valenitabua challenging amendments to the charge in the case of SODELPA Member of Parliament, Salote Radrodro.

FICAC charged Radrodro with one count of giving false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining financial advantage.

She is alleged to have breached the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 when she claimed travel and accommodation allowances she was not entitled to.

The allegations were brought by the former Parliament secretary-general, Viniana Namosimalua.

It is alleged Radrodro had falsely stated that her permanent place of residence was in Namulomulo Village, Nabouwalu in Bua Province, and allegedly obtained $37,921.13 between June 2019 and April 2020.

Radrodro was initially charged for the period of August 2019 to April 2020, however, FICAC amended the alleged offence dates alleged to have started on June 13, 2019.

Mr Valenitabua had filed a preliminary objection under Section 279 (1) (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act of 2009 against the information filed by FICAC claiming that Radrodro’s charges were wrong, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter, and that the Member of Parliament Declaration Form (MPDF) was not valid during the entire period contained in the charge.

High Court Judge Justice Thushara Kumarage said the court noticed that though the defendant claimed that her MPDF expired on December 13, 2019, she had continued to submit claims to the Parliament and had been paid public money amounting to $18,343.53 as allowances till April 30, 2020.

He said further on realising the mistake as claimed by the defendant, she had not reimbursed the money though she was an honourable MP of Fiji.

Justice Kumarage said though it was the responsibility of the defendant to submit an updated MPDF form after six months, it was unfortunate to see the defendant blowing hot and cold in a legal proceeding to raise a preliminary objection to the information filed against her, though she had obtained the money from Parliament without any complaint.

He said therefore, the court found that this preliminary objection lacked any ascertainable credit and dismissed the application.

Radrodro’s trial will begin next week Monday, June 27.

 



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