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26 Months In Jail For Tui Namosi

Matanitobua is convicted and sentenced for the offences of false information to a public servant and obtaining financial advantage.
16 Aug 2022 09:22
26 Months In Jail For Tui Namosi
Former Parliament MP, Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua after his sentencing at the High Court in Suva on August 15, 2022. Photo: Leon Lord

The money that was wrongfully obtained by Tui Namosi and former SODELPA Member of Parliament, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua could have been used to upgrade schools in Namosi.

Anti-Corruption High Court Judge Justice Dr Thushara Kumarage made this statement while sentencing Tui Namosi to 36 months imprisonment.

Out of 36 months, 26 months have been ordered to be served effective immediately with a non-parole period of 20 months while the remaining 10 months have been suspended for a period of five years.

Judge Justice Dr Kumarage said the money could have also been used to provide better shoes and other equipment for young kids playing football and representing their schools with the dream of playing for the national team one day.

 

He said this was a case where a Parliamentarian namely Matanitobua has misused allowances provided to Parliamentarians through the Parliament Remuneration Act of 2014 by the use of public money, in recognition of the onerous duty expected from the MP.

Matanitobua is convicted and sentenced for the offences of false information to a public servant and obtaining financial advantage.

Matanitobua on or about November 26, 2018, gave false information that his permanent place of residence was Namosi Village, Namosi, which he knew to be false.

Matanitobua also obtained a financial advantage of $38,378.22 between August 1, 2019, and April 30, 2020, by submitting an allowance claim to the office of the acting secretary general to Parliament.

 

Sentencing

While delivering the sentence, Justice Dr Kumarage said: “You (Matanitobua) were a Parliamentarian for this country for several years.

“As a consequence, I am of the view that you were well aware that you were reposed with trust and responsibility on behalf of your voters on one hand, and you had a responsibility to the Constitution of this country on the other hand by the oath of office and the oath of allegiance you took in the Parliament.”

Justice Dr Kumarage said during the course of the trial, the Court observed the utmost trust and respect the people of Namosi extended to Matanitobua as the paramount Chief of Namosi.

He said this showed that the people of Namosi expected Matanitobua to be idle reflecting community values deserving their incontrovertible respect and obedience.

 

He added that in high insight, the money that was wrongfully obtained by Matanitobua could have been used to train more health care professionals in Namosi to provide a better health service to the citizenry.

“In recognising that if not nipped in the bud, the conduct of this nature by the MP could spread like wildfire and corrupt the political culture of this country and bring the apparatus of the Government to a standstill, as recently seen in some jurisdictions, this court identified its responsibility to send a profoundly strong signal to the community to discourage potential wrongdoers within the contours of the law,” Justice Dr Kumarage said.

“Prosecution contends that by his conduct, Matanitobua betrayed the public trust in MP.”

“Such action is serious damage to the reputation of the Parliament that could result in overall reduced confidence in the democratic system of our country.”

 

“It was the submission of the Prosecution that Matanitobua claimed the reimbursements when there were no actual expenses involved,” Justice Dr Kumarage said.

Justice Dr Kumarage said in this matter, Matanitobua decided to repay the money after the conclusion of a trial that went on for three weeks ending up in his conviction.

He warned Matanitobua that if he committed any crime punishable by imprisonment during the operational period of five years and was found guilty by the Court, Matanitobua was liable to be charged and prosecuted for an offence according to Section 28 of the Sentencing and Penalties Act 2009.

 

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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