Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Treason Complaint Laid with Fiji Police

Justice must prevail
9/10/2008

No one is above the law here in Fiji.
Last Friday (September 5) members of the ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase -led government filed a complaint of treason against interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, members of the interim government, National Council for Building Better Fiji members, co-chair Archbishop Petero Mataca and the military council.
The complaint was lodged on behalf of the party by Mr Qarase, ousted members of parliament Samisoni Tikoinasau, Ted Young, Mere Samisoni and Dr Tupeni Baba.
Ousted Leader of Opposition Mick Beddoes and Adi Sivia Qoro a former member of the Fiji Labour Party have also joined in the action.
The formal complaint was lodged at the Raiwaqa police station at 3.25 pm and was received by Corporal Pradeep Singh.
Mr Qarase said as head of the department that would conduct investigations Commissioner of Police Commodore Esala Teleni should step aside.
“We expect police to start investigations immediately,” said Mr Qarase.
“We also call on the Commissioner of Police (Esala Teleni) as he is implicated to step aside to allow for investigations to begin.”
The complaint alleges that Cdre Bainimarama, members of the military council and possibly others have committed treason contrary to S.50 of the Penal Code. Treason is an offence under section 50 of the Penal Code of Fiji and carries a mandatory death sentence.
Section 50 of the Penal Code clearly stipulates - “Any person who compasses, imagines, invents, devises or intends any act, matter or theory, the compassing, imagining, inventing, devising or intending whereof is treason by the law of England for the time being in force, and expresses, utters or declares such compassing, imagining, inventing, devising or intending by publishing any printing or writing or by any overt acts or does any act which if done in England, would be deemed to be treason according to the law of England for the time being in force, is guilty of the offence termed treason and shall be sentenced to death.”
I must admit that this complaint was expected and the complainants were waiting for the right time.
In fact they had waited for the ruling on the civil case between Qarase and Bainimarama in regard to the legality of military takeover on 5th December 2006.
However, because the judgement was yet to be delivered and it was 20 months after the bloodless coup, they had to act because they have only four months left to lodge such a complaint or else they would lose this right after 24 months of the event.
When asked to elaborate on the treason complaint he lodged at Nadi, ousted Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes said - “I understand that the statute of limitations for filing complaints against people who committed treason is two years, so it will expire on December 5th 2008. Despite all political parties agreeing to dialogue with the Military Junta through a Commonwealth sponsored process, approved by the President and
requested by the Junta, they have failed, as they have in all previous undertakings, to honor their side, and continue to play games with the composition and structure of the process and refuse to look at a broad based terms of reference and want only a rubber stamping exercise of their flawed Charter process and the electoral reforms which reneges on their commitment to the Pacific forum leader's in Tonga. Frankly I think they are afraid to engage us, because deep down inside they all know they are wrong and they will ultimately lose, so they are trying to avoid engaging us at this time, so I expect them to make a lot more excuses for why they can't start any dialogue.
It is because of their failure once again, to engage in sincere dialogue with all parties, to try and find an inclusive outcome that is in the people's best interest that prompted me to file my complaint against them, so as to ensure the dialogue does take place, but this time in a court of law.”
Mr Teleni said the action of the complainants was clearly an abuse of process by the SDL Party in interfering with the LQ vs Bainimarama case which is already before the court.
Is this so?
Because of this he had said his men would not investigate it.
Is this a fair assessment?
The complainants lawyer Niko Nawaikula defended the action and said this was a criminal matter and the matter already before the court was a civil one.
So, the Police must carry out their investigation.
Former Police Commissioner Romanu Tikotikoca was later replaced by Mr Teleni said police should investigate the matter.
We must be mindful of the right of the complainants as clearly explained by Fiji Human Rights Commission chairperson Dr Shaista Shameem. She said police must proceed with treason investigations filed by the ousted members of the SDL party.
Ms Shameem told the Fiji Village website, “the civil case filed by ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase against Commodore Frank Bainimarama should not stop investigations into allegations of treason.”
“The right of the complainant is protected under the constitution.”
Fiji Law Society president Isireli Fa s aid the action taken by Mr Qarase and his colleagues against the army commander and others for treason “is something that is within their rights to do”.
“The complaints they have lodged places those who are the subject of the complaints in a difficult position because they are at present in control of the country. It is the view of the Fiji Law Society that the police must investigate the complaints to ensure that the law is applied fairly and justly to all the citizens of Fiji,” Mr Fa said.
He clarified that the matter before the court was a civil matter, whereas the present complaints were criminal in nature.
“I think the civil matter does not interfere with the carrying out of investigations but I think any court proceedings should await the conclusion of the civil matter. I think the status of matters as they stand require a political solution. In this regard, I think that political dialogue and forum must start immediately to head off any threats to stability and the maintenance of the rule of law.”
Lautoka lawyer Kitione Vuataki said another option available for the complainants was to carry out their own investigation and send it to the Director of Public Prosecutions to analyse it and make a decision. He said the case was similar to that of Chandrika Prasad.
Mr Vuataki said the current complaint was a criminal one
Suva lawyer Ratu Savenaca Komaisavai said the complaint was criminal in nature and police must investigate it thoroughly.
The complaint he says involves the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code and is totally different from the civil case now before the High Court.
“The public must not be ill-informed about the two cases as they are totally different,” Mr Komaisavai said.
There should not be a cover up as the matter will later emerge so to put it to an end, investigation must begin now.
He reminded Police that lawyers can also handle the case and carry out their own investigation as this is a common procedure in the Commonwealth countries if people responsible want to block such an investigation.
The Suva lawyer said another avenue that would be readily available is the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The ICC is based on a treaty, joined by 106 countries including Fiji.
The ICC is a court of last resort.
It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine, for example if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility. In addition, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes.
I must admit that we now have a complaint that has been disregarded by the Commissioner of Police.
This is a very serious matter especially when no one is above the law.
It is a fact that the trust of the people to the Police Force has been broken and a process must be undertaken to repair this trust.
This process must begin with honesty and accountability.
Soon after the December 2006 military bloodless coup there was great support because of the promise to carry out a clean up campaign to bring to justice corrupt pubic officers. People believe the coup maker was acting in good faith but after 20 months the support had lessened because no one had been implicated.
It is a fact that we expect our leaders to be truthful and we expect them to abide by the law and respect the rights of the people.
We now have a case where police have failed to preserve, protect, and defend the constitutional right of the complainants.
There are more complaints in regard to the 5th December 2006 event that would be filed in the near future and it would be interesting to see how the Police Force would handle them.
As protectors of the law, the Police should investigate the treason complaints.
The complainants have the right to be heard and the final arbiter would be the court.
We all want justice to prevail here in our beloved nation.

Teleni knows his job, says Ratu Epeli
9/10/2008

Police commissioner Esala Teleni knows his job and should be left to do it, says interim Minister for Defence Ratu Epeli Ganilau.
He said it was not his place to direct Mr Teleni to carry out his duties.

Ratu Epeli was asked if he would step in as minister responsible for the force and direct the commissioner to carry out investigations into a treason complaint lodged by members of the ousted Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua government.

“He (Teleni) knows what he is doing and I think it would be best to direct questions (on the matter) to him,” he said.

Some members of the SDL party ousted in the 2006 military coup last week lodged a complaint of treason against the interim Government, military council and the National Council for Building a Better Fiji at the Raiwaqa Police Station.

The complaint was lodged on behalf of the party by ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, ousted MPs Samisoni Tikoinasau, Ted Young, Mere Samisoni, Dr Tupeni Baba.

Ousted Leader of Opposition Mick Beddoes and Adi Sivia Qoro a former member of the Fiji Labour Party joined in the action taken.

A formal complaint was lodged at the Raiwaqa police station at 3.25 pm yesterday and received by Corporal Pradeep Singh.

Mr Qarase said as head of the department that would conduct investigations Mr Teleni should step aside.

However, Mr Teleni said the nature of the report made against him and the military at the Raiwaqa police station was “clearly an abuse of process by the SDL Party in interfering with the LQ vs Bainimarama case which is already before the court.”

He said the action by the SDL party was detrimental to the case trialled in the High Court.

“The SDL have to some extent used their capacity as a political party to sway decisions that solely must be made by the court without interference,’’ he said.

“The SDL party has used this opportunity to air out an issue that would instigate instability and under no circumstances will I fail to execute the fullest extent of the law to prevent instability in the nation.”


Speight’s treason trial used to back complaint

9/10/2008

Documents from the treason trial of 2000 coup frontman George Speight will be used as supporting evidence in the treason complaint filed by ousted members of the Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua-led government.
George Speight was found guilty of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002.

His brother and former MP Samisoni Tikoinasau yesterday gave his statement to police as a follow up to the treason complaint lodged with the police.

Mr Tikoinasau gave his statement to CID officers followed by fellow ousted MP and businesswoman Mere Samisoni.

Mr Tikoinasau said the documents from Speight’s treason case had also been filed as supporting documents in the case against members of the State.

“You can say I have come full circle. It is a historical moment,’’ he said.

“The case of my brother touched us as a family and I never thought that I would one day use documents I had filed away as historical collections from my brother’s trial as supporting documents for my case.

“These are historical collection of my brother’s trial where he was implicated by the court and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002.”

“It is ironic that the same documents have been tendered for our case to be used in an effective way.

Mr Tikoinasau was the second person to officially give a statement to police. Fellow ousted MP Ted Young gave his statement on Monday.

Ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Mr Tikoinasau, Mr Young, Mrs Samisoni and Dr Tupeni Baba last week filed a complaint of treason against interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, members of the interim government, National council for Building a Better Fiji members and co-chair Archbishop Petero Mataca and the military council.

SDL National Director Peceli Kinivuwai said the members of the party had done their duty and filed the complaint.

“We trust the commissioner will direct his men to conduct investigations. They are the guardians of the law and the commissioner police should conduct investigations accordingly, justice should prevail.”

Mr Tikoinasau and Mrs Samisoni have called on Commissioner Police Commodore Esala Teleni to step aside and allow for independent investigations to take place.




Military stays away from case

9/10/2008
The military will not interfere with a treason complaint filed by ousted members of the Laisenia Qarase-led government.
Major Neumi Leweni said the decision on whether to investigate the treason allegations filed by members of the Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua party against the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, interim ministers and the members of the RFMF was solely in the hands of the Fiji Police.
Major Leweni said the military gave its assurance that there would be no interference on their part on the treason complaint.
Mjr Leweni said the fact that the complaint has been lodged proved that the RFMF was not involved in any decision being made by the Fiji Police Force.
However Police Commissioner Esala Teleni has decided not to investigate the treason complaint.
SDL lawyer Niko Nawaikula said the next process available to them was private prosecution.
“We will file the charges ourselves, issue the summons, if they do not adhere to this then we will issue warrants,” he said.
He said this process was normal under the law and had been done in 50 cases.
“If police do not want to proceed as required under the law, if the matter is in the public interest as in this case then we will use this avenue,” he said.
Mr Nawaikula said the other option was to seek the assistance of the Criminal Court of Justice which could prosecute through its process.

Police officers file reports

9/10/2008





Police officers at the Raiwaqa police station cannot do much but file the statements of those that have lodged treason complaints against members of the State.
Crime Officer Inspector Balwant Singh said there was nothing much police officers could do but file the report and take statements.

“It is basic policing, the statements will then be forwarded to CID,” Mr Singh said.

He said complaints filed yesterday by ousted members of parliament included; illegal takeover and unlawful taking of oath.

Mr Singh said so far three complainants have filed their statements with police.

“We cannot refuse any complaint, we will do that, we will not refuse any complaints.”

Police spokesperson Ema Mua said Commissioner of Police Commodore Esala Teleni has maintained that police would not investigate the matter.

“For the simple reason that the LQ vs Bainimarama matter is still before the court. The cases maybe different but the issues they are brining up here are in that case. It would be contemptuous to the court. That is why the Commissioner has decide not to investigate,” she said.




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