NATION | NEWS

Reply On Prasad’s Dropped Case

She (allegedly) said this was more aggressive because she could feel his arms were much tighter around her body this time around. When he (allegedly) tried to kiss her lips she turned her face again to the other side and he ended up kissing her cheek again.
10 Nov 2022 14:15
Reply On Prasad’s Dropped Case
Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho.

Good afternoon members of the media.

I am today compelled to have this media conference in light of the decision made by the DPP not to pursue charges against Professor Biman Prasad.

We are very concerned that this decision of the DPP since it can undermine the confidence of the ordinary members of the public, in particular women and children, who are generally the victims of sexual impropriety, to report such matters.

We are also concerned about certain irregularities. As you and we have read in the DPP’s public statement, he had sought representations by the lawyers of Prof Biman Prasad.

 

I note with grave concern that the same courtesy of hearing from Mrs. Ari Taniguchi was not extended to her. Mrs. Taniguchi has confirmed that no one from the DPP’s office contacted her after we handed over the file to the DPP’s Office. The DPP’s office, however, contacted Prof Prasad through his lawyers.

I also note with even more concern that an ordinary Rajesh or Pauliasi would not be given this opportunity by the DPP to have their lawyers make representations directly to the DPP’s Office.

It would be extremely rare and in particular when it involves such allegations. In the recent past such like matters have been brought before the Courts but no such prior representations have been sought from lawyers of accused persons.

 

In this instance the DPP sought to seek representations from Prof Prasad through his lawyers but did not see it fit to speak to Mrs Taniguchi.

In the case of every other Fijian, lawyers make their case before the Court but here we see a deviation.

In fact in this case, the matter was not allowed to reach the judicial process and it would appear that despite evidence given by the complainant and corroborative evidence given by a witness, the DPP is arguably trying to usurp the powers of the Court.

Why was it different in this matter which involved Prof Prasad?

 

We are of the view that the DPP’s decision deviated from the principle of assessing each case on its merits devoid of personality, social status or politics.

We are also of the view that the matter was assessed from a political prism and not in the best interest of the victim or the public.

Given as per the Constitution and the law, we can no longer proceed with the matter since the DPP has the final say in all criminal prosecutions.

However, we will in the public interest and in particular to ensure we do not lose trust with members of the public, highlight in this media conference as to what the specific nature of the complaint was and the basis we had decided to lay charges.

We reiterate we are doing so because we want the public to have confidence that the police force will do its utmost to help the victims of sexual impropriety. We are also doing so because a segment of the public are accusing the Fiji Police Force of political bias. We have dealt with this matter just as we deal with all complaints of sexual impropriety.

 

Before we lay out the details we wish to apologise to Mrs Taniguchi and her family for what they have been put through and in particular because of the unfortunate decision of the Office of the DPP.

On 18 October, Mrs Taniguchi lodged a complaint with the Fiji Police Force against Prof Prasad. She provided our investigators her mobile phone which contained messages sent to her by Prof Prasad. She gave her statement where she (allegedly) recalled two instances where Prof Prasad attempted to kiss her on her lips and she had to turn her face to avoid it.

She also talked about how he (allegedly) would hug her tightly and in an aggressive manner. This allegation was collaborated by another woman who had witnessed the incident.

We took Mrs Taniguchi’s statement, a statement from the witness and called Prof Prasad for an interview.

 

This interview was conducted in the presence of Prof Prasad’s lawyers, Munro Leys. Prof Prasad chose to remain silent during this interview.

Let me discuss some of the information outlined by Mrs Taniguchi.

She met Prof Prasad and his wife on 23 June, 2022 at Nausori Airport. They exchanged pleasantries and during their conversation, Prof Prasad said they should communicate through WhatsApp. He took down her mobile number.

The same night, she started receiving WhatsApp messages from Prof Prasad. He sent her a photo taken from their meeting at the airport.

He continued to message her through WhatsApp saying ‘Hi’ and sending heart emojis.

 

He also sent personal messages to her saying amongst other things, you look beautiful.

Prof Prasad also called her when she was on her way back to Singapore which was on the 27th of June 2022. She saw 6 missed calls from him on her WhatsApp account,

In another incident Prof Prasad invited her to come to Suva and when she replied saying that her husband was busy Prof Prasad said that she could come alone.

Mrs Taniguchi felt very disturbed with this pattern of intrusive behaviour, but she didn’t say anything and only replied with the laugh messages because she was in a difficult position. After all Prof Prasad was the leader of the political party her husband was going to stand for as a candidate and in her mind he was to be respected. He was also a known public figure.

On 16 July, her husband Hiroshi Taniguchi invited Prof Prasad and his wife for dinner at their residence in Nadi.

 

At the dinner, Prof Prasad took Mrs Taniguchi’s photo (allegedly) without her knowledge.

She came to know about the photo when Prof Prasad sent her the photo at 4am through WhatsApp. The unwanted attention became so overwhelming that Mrs Taniguchi deleted WhatsApp from her phone.

In her statement, Mrs Taniguchi told our investigators that (allegedly) on two separate occasions, there were attempts by Prof Prasad to kiss her on her lips.

Once (allegedly) during a candidate’s workshop on 22 July at NFP HQ in Suva, Prof Prasad tightly hugged Mrs Taniguchi’s and tried to kiss her lips.

As he (allegedly) tried to kiss her on her lips she turned away and he ended up kissing her cheek.

 

On 12 August, during the nomination announcement at NFP HQ Suva, Prof Prasad (allegedly) hugged Mrs. Taniguchi tightly and tried to again kiss her on her lips.

She (allegedly) said this was more aggressive because she could feel his arms were much tighter around her body this time around. When he (allegedly) tried to kiss her lips she turned her face again to the other side and he ended up kissing her cheek again.

This was witnessed by another woman who was with Mrs Taniguchi and with whom Mrs. Taniguchi confided in, while crying.

We considered Mrs Taniguchi’s statement, statement by the witness and the interview with Prof Prasad.

We then considered charges as is done in all cases. Prof Prasad was to be charged under Section 213(1)(a) with two counts of insulting the modesty of a person.

 

Prof Prasad was advised to appear in Court on 15 November 2022 when he would be handed his detailed charge sheet and disclosures.

Fiji Police Force has the legal powers to charge any person for an offence and the power to grant police bail. This was done in Prof Prasad’s case.

We then forwarded the police evidence docket to the DPP’s Office for its review given the publicity and the misinformation spread in particular through social media.

The DPP met with our police prosecutor and asked for the entire police docket. We do not always need to forward the entire docket to the ODPP for its review, but we complied.

Subsequently after 7 days or so the Office of the DPP issued a statement which stated “there is insufficient evidence for a reasonable prospect of conviction were the matter to proceed to court”. It also stated that “as part of our review, we analysed the charges proposed by the police as well as other possible charges and available defences”, “We also noted the representations provided to us by Professor Prasad’s lawyers”.

 

What is most disturbing is that the DPP appears to have chosen not to believe the statement given by an ordinary woman, over representations made by Prof Prasad through his lawyers. As stated earlier he did not see it fit to talk to Mrs. Taniguchi.

Mrs Taniguchi was clear in her statement in terms of what happened and how she felt. She also had a witness and she also had the WhatsApp messages.

In our opinion if an allegation which is not wild, frivolous and vexatious and through a thorough investigation sufficient and credible evidence is gathered including corrobative evidence then the matter is entirely for the Courts to determine.

It appears that DPP chose not to believe Mrs Taniguchi’s statement and the statement of the witness who has corroborated the actions complained of and without hearing them, but chose to believe Prof Prasad.

 

It would have served all parties well if representations were made during the course of the Court proceedings, which is what happens in all cases. This however is not what happened in this matter.

We wish to inform all citizens of this country that this decision by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will not stop the Fiji Police Force from receiving and considering complaints of sexual impropriety.

We assure members of the public in particular women and children that the Fiji Police Force will pursue such complaints with all its resources. And please do not lose confidence in the criminal justice system, in particular in sexual impropriety matters.

The Fiji Police Force is here to serve you and maintain law, order and security for all Fijians. Thank you.

 

Source: Fiji Police Force



Got A News Tip


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Subscribe-to-Newspaper