Last Updated : 16-04-2014 12:22


 
 

Fmr Fiji leader sentenced by Lankan judge

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Sri Lanka Judge Priyantha Fernando who is sitting in the Fijian High Court has sentenced former Prime Minister in Fiji Laisenia Qarase, for a year on corruption charges, Sky News reported.

Mr Qarase, 71, served as prime minister from 2000 until he was overthrown in December 2006 by the military strongman Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Cdre Bainimarama appointed Mr Qarase caretaker prime minister in 2000 following a coup by ethnic Fijian nationalists and he went on to win elections in 2001 and 2006.

The military leader later accused him of corruption and causing racial strife by favouring indigenous Fijians over the ethnic Indian minority and appointed himself prime minister.

Mr Qarase's lawyer, who asked for a non-custodial sentence, citing his age and poor health, told the judge the conviction meant he would not be allowed to contest the next election, which Cdre Bainimarama has said will be held in 2014.

Judge Fernando found Qarase guilty on Tuesday on six charges of abuse of office and three other corruption charges while he was a company director, financial adviser of the Fijian Affairs Board and adviser to the former Great Council of Chiefs, between 1992 and 2000.

The military regime recruited Judge Fernando from Sri Lanka to sit on the High Court bench after New Zealand and Australian judges who had traditionally served in the justice system refused to accept posts, claiming the courts were not free of government control.

Security was tight around the court and the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation quoted a police spokesman as saying officer numbers had been increased to 'deal with any issue that will arise'.

The New Zealand and Australian governments announced on Monday that they would restore full diplomatic relations with Fiji and relax sanctions to encourage Cdre Bainimarama to proceed with the elections he has promised.


 
 

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