Friday, March 05, 2010

All 8 Men Handed Prison Sentences

Fiji Village News - 5 March 2010

The eight men convicted of conspiring to murder Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama have been handed down prison sentences by High Court Judge Justice Paul Madigan this afternoon.

Justice Madigan started the prison sentences for all eight men at 6 years and increased or reduced their sentences based on their degree of participation.

Naitasiri chief, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata has been sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.

Justice Madigan said the court cannot take into account Ratu Inoke's chiefly status as this is not recognised in court.

He said everyone who sits in the dock of the court sits there as an equal with all others before the Law and it would be wrong to show him mercy because of Ratu Inoke's position.

The judge said and I quote "On the contrary, Ratu Inoke someone of your status should be using your position to bring stability and progress to the country" end of quote.

Justice Madigan then said that he is convinced that Ratu Inoke was one of the prime motivators with Ballu Khan to plan the conspiracy.

The High Court Judge said if the plan had succeeded, it would have brought misery to every person in this country.

He said the fact that Ratu Inoke had provided his house, farm and the Naitasiri Provincial building, he had a motive in weakening the military and bringing instability and havoc to the country.

However Justice Madigan said the court does accept that there are genuine mitigating factors to Ratu Inoke's advantage (including time spent in custody) and to reflect these 12 months is deducted from the 6 year starting point.

The serious aggravating features he mentioned lead him to add 2 years to that sentence, making a total sentence for Ratu Inoke to serve of 7 years.
Sivaniolo Naulago has also been sentenced to 7 years imprisonment by Justice Madigan.

The Judge said Naulago was a major player in the conspiracy.

He said Naulago was the brain behind the brawn in the plot and it was profoundly sad that he fell under the spell of Ballu Khan and Ratu Inoke Takiveikata.

Barbados Mills will spend the next 6 and a half years behind bars as Judge Madigan said Mills was instrumental in the conspiracy.

He said Mills was the man that used to arrange transport, payments, meetings and training.

Feoko Gadekibau has been sentenced to 5 years 6 months imprisonment.

The Judge told Gadekibau that he was a driver and bodyguard for Ballu Khan and were in attendance at nearly all the meetings.

Justice Madigan said there is no evidence that he contributed to those meetings or played any role in organising matters, it is relevant however that Gadekibau acted by searching Corporal Peniasi Kuli's group before the meeting at Sabeto.

The Judge also said that despite Gadekibau's counsel's plea he cannot accept that the mutiny conviction is irrelevant to the Penal Code Offence.

The Judge said previous convictions speak of character no matter under what jurisdiction they arise within Fiji and a conviction for mutiny which is highly relevant in these circumstances cannot afford Gadekibau any credit.

Kaminieli Vosavere got four years prison sentence. Judge Madigan said Vosavere=s role was minimal but he attended a meeting at the Suva foreshore with Mills and Corporal Peniasi Kuli where he agreed to be part of the plot with other conspirators.

The Judge said Vosavere had said I have the mind of an officer and I too can make plans.

The Judge said this is clearly evident of agreement to the conspiracy which the assessors obviously acted on.

Metuisela Mua has been sentenced to 3 years 6 months imprisonment.

Judge Madigan described Mua as the mystery man with no connections to Ballu Khan but he was present at one meeting and urged the conspirators to fight until the end and his role was minimal.

Eparama Waqatairewa and Pauliasi Namulo got three years imprisonment each.

They were employees of Ballu Khan and played a minimal part in the conspiracy.

High Court Judge Justice Paul Madigan while handing down the sentence to the eight men convicted of conspiring to murder Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama stated that in the circumstances, he has no doubt that the plot was hatched by, orchestrated by, and directed by Ballu Khan, probably in concert with his business partner, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata.

Justice Madigan states that it is quite apparent that everyone of the eight men, apart from Metuisela Mua, is connected in some way to Ballu Khan, whether he be business partner or employee capacity.

The Judge highlights that the theme throughout the trial of weakening the military, Aremoving@ the Commodore and the President, ridding the country of Indo Fijians, reveals both sinister and racial intentions.

He said there was no evidence before the court of an y thought given to the fate of the average Fijian should the country be suddenly rid of its President, Prime Minister and Army. He said the plans of the eight men were thoughtless, self serving and greedy.

Justice Madigan said he has no hesitation in concluding that the plot was selfish, petulant, and arrogant and potentially highly destructive of the fabric of Fiji's statehood.

He said by its very nature, a sentence for conspiracy charge cannot favor or disfavor any particular conspirator, they are in it together and will be punished together.

Justice Madigan said the court can nevertheless make adjustments to the sentences to reflect the roles of the ringleaders, organisers or "foot soldiers".

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