A plea of ‘Not Guilty’ was entered by the SODELPA Party Leader and former Fiji Prime Minister at the Suva Magistrates Court today before Resident Magistrate Mr. Jioji Boseiwaqa.
Mr. Sitiveni Rabuka was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) in May this year with one count of "Providing False Declaration of Assets, Income and Liabilities" under the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act No. 4 of 2013.
In today’s sitting both parties made it known to the court that there were no issues regarding Resident Magistrate Mr. Boseiwaqa residing over the matter due to a previous mention of a possible conflict of interest.
FICAC Prosecutor Mr. Rashmi Aslam made it known to the court that they would be relying on the Caution Interview as it contains a full confession.
To this, Mr. Filimoni Vosarogo and Ms. Lynda Tabuya, who represent the Accused, stated that they would be challenging the Caution Interview and would let the grounds of this be revealed at the next court sitting.
Defense also informed the court that there were preliminary issues which needed to be addressed.
These issues were regarding the conduct of the FICAC investigation and they requested FICAC to obtain statements from those involved in the conduct of the investigation and interview which would be filed under Voir Dire (trial within a trial) in the next court sitting.
Furthermore, Defense reminded the Prosecution that it was their duty to provide full disclosures.
Mr. Aslam then rebutted this, stating that that information was already provided to them.
The matter has been adjourned to 15 June 2018.
Mr. Rabuka is alleged to have in 2017, provided a false declaration of assets and liabilities to the Supervisor of Elections by failing to provide information pertaining to the tax liability with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services (FRCS) which amounted to $316,956.20FJD.
He also failed to declare the Investment and interest income with Ragwhan Constructions Limited in the amount of $200,000FJD and $16,000FJD respectively and also the liability in the amount of $120,000FJD.
These are contrary to sections 24 (1A) and 24(5) of the above mentioned Act.