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Trial Of Ex-Govt MP Prakash Starts

Prakash is alleged to have falsely stated that his permanent place of residence was in Waidracia, Vunidawa, Nabuni, Naluwai, Naitasiri, and allegedly obtained $33,670 between August 2019 and March 2020.
20 Sep 2022 12:49
Trial Of Ex-Govt MP Prakash Starts
Former FijiFirst MP, Vijendra Prakash (L) alongside SODELPA MP Simione Rasova outside the Suva High Court on September 19, 2022. Photo- Leon Lord

Former Government Member of Parliament Vijendra Prakash’s trial began at the Anti-Corruption High Court in Suva.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) charged Prakash with one count each of false information to a public servant and obtaining financial advantage.

He is alleged to have obtained financial advantages in breach of the Parliamentary Remunerations Act of 2014.

Prakash is alleged to have falsely stated that his permanent place of residence was in Waidracia, Vunidawa, Nabuni, Naluwai, Naitasiri, and allegedly obtained $33,670 between August 2019 and March 2020.

The trial is presided over by the Anti-Corruption High Court Judge Justice Dr Thushara Kumarage.

 

FICAC’s Opening Statement:

In the opening statement, FICAC counsel Ashish Nand addressed to the court that Prakash was not entitled to the allowances because he was not residing beyond 30 kilometres away from Parliament.

He said the burden of proof was on the Prosecution to prove the case against the accused.

He added that Prakash on November 27, 2018, signed a Member of Parliament Declaration Form (MPDF) and submitted it to the Office of the Secretary-General of the Parliament stating that his permanent address was Vunidawa and Naluwai in Naitasiri.

 

Mr Nand told the court that through evidence that would be presented in the trial, the prosecution would prove that Prakash permanently resided at Omkar Road in Narere which was within the Suva-Nausori corridor and was in the greater Suva area.

He said Omkar Road was approximately 13.9km away from Parliament.

He said Prakash in his statutory declaration had stated that he spent his entire life in Naitasiri.

 

Mr Nand told the court that the Prosecution’s position was that Prakash was not residing at either of the places in Naitasiri and was in fact residing at Omkar Road which fell within 30km from Parliament.

He said through the evidence, Prosecution would prove that Prakash visited his farm and visited resorts but returned back to Narere.

He referred to Prakash as a city farmer being a person who did not permanently reside at the farm but permanently lived at Narere.

 

Prosecution Witness 1

Monita Devi Ram, an executive officer at the Registrar of Titles office took stand and informed the court that Omkar Road, Narere, was registered under Prakash’s name. She testified that the Title was registered on February 12, 2010.

She also told the court that the lease for the lot commenced on July 1, 1998 and within 12 months from the commencement, a building for residential was to be built.

Defence counsel Siddharth Nandan objected to the Title document being tendered as a document in the trial.

 

He said the document did not have sufficient level of high degree of relevance in the case at this juncture. He added that the Court should not allow the document to be tendered and that it was not admissible at this point.

Mr Nand said the genesis of the document was in the Information filed.

He said the charge stated that the document was in relevance to the charges against Prakash. He added that the document showed the link of Omkar Road and Prakash and that the document was relevant.

 

The Judge ruled that there was no requirement to bring direct or indirect evidence at the start of the trial.

He said the Prosecution was trying to build something and if there was no connection then the Court would have rejected the same. He said the objection by the defence was at a very early stage and was not right to come at this point.

He ruled that the objection was premature and dismissed the same.

 

Story By: Ashna Kumar

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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