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Radrodro Sentencing On Thursday

Radrodro has been found guilty and convicted of false information to a public servant and of obtaining financial advantage.
20 Sep 2022 13:10
Radrodro Sentencing On Thursday
Former SODELPA Parliamentarian Salote Radrodro outside the Anti-Corruption High Court in Suva on September 19, 2022. Photo: Ashna Kumar

Former SODELPA Parliamentarian Salote Radrodro will be sentenced on Thursday. Radrodro has been found guilty and convicted of false information to a public servant and of obtaining financial advantage.

Radrodro breached the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 when she claimed travel and accommodation allowances she was not entitled to amounting to $37,921.13 between June 2019 and April 2020 by falsely stating to the Parliament in a Member of Parliament Declaration Form that her permanent place of residence was in Namulomulo village, Nabouwalu, Bua, which was 30 kilometres away from the Parliament.

 

Radrodro, through her lawyer Simione Valenitabua, filed a Motion in Arrest of Judgment seeking the following orders:

  • That Radrodro as convicted be discharged from the information upon which the court passed judgment against her on September 6 on the ground that the information as amended did no, state any offence which the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court, had power to try for the following reasons:

1. Radrodro as an MP is immune from legal proceedings pursuant to Section 3 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1965; and

2. Both offences in the information are summary offences triable in the Magistrates Court Anti-Corruption Division pursuant to Section 2 headed Interpretation and Section 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009.

  • And for any other order the court deemed just and expedient. In the hearing before Anti-Corruption High Court Judge Justice Dr Thushara Kumarage, Mr Valenitabua submitted that Radrodro was immune to criminal and civil cases under the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1965.

 

He said he came to the conclusion to make and argue this motion as the Court did not have the power to hear this case because this case should have been dealt with through the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1965.

He added that as per the Act, no criminal or civil proceedings could be instituted against his client.

He also said that as per Section 20 of the Act, Radrodro could be penalised or punished by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee as they had the powers to investigate, table the report to the Parliament and voted upon.

Mr Valenitabua said this was a Parliamentary matter and it was governed by the Constitution, which was the highest supreme law of the land.

 

He said within Parliament, it was different to deal with the matter because it involved different rules and laws for offences committed within Parliament.

He said Parliament itself was a High Court of this country and had jurisdiction to prosecute the MPs. He added that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

He also submitted that his client, Radrodro should be discharged from the case on which she was found guilty. FICAC Commissioner Rashmi Aslam in his submission said Mr Valenitabua had misconceived Section 239 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009.

 

He said if one looked at the Section correctly, it did not restrict to a timeline.

He added the Section stated the motion could be filed anytime before the sentence and did not say one had to wait until the judgment was passed by the Court.

Mr Aslam said this was not something that happened overnight and that the defence counsel had all this information with him.

 

He added that this motion was a very late application with a misconception of Section 239 of the Constitution.

He said the jurisdiction matters must be argued carefully having looked at all the provisions in all relevant laws that deal with the High Court jurisdiction.

He said when the Constitution said unlimited original jurisdiction to the High Court; no other law in the country could restrain that including the Criminal Procedure Act.

Mr Aslam said the Magistrates Court did not receive jurisdiction by the Constitution. He said no one or no party should be allowed to say that the High Court did not have any jurisdiction.

 

He said under Section 18 of the High Court Act, the High Court had jurisdiction by the Constitution of Fiji Mr Aslam said the first declaration occurred entirely out of the Parliament business time.

He said Radrodro gave a declaration to the Parliament and not to the Speaker of Parliament. Mr Aslam sought costs in this motion.

 

Story By: Ashna Kumar

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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