The Case Against The Seven Members of Parliament Gets Transferred To The High Court

Media Team   |   06 Dec 2021

The case against the seven (7) Members of Parliament (MP’s) has now been transferred to the High Court of the Anti-Corruption Division.

The seven MP’s have been charged with one (1) count each of False Information to Public Servant contrary to Section 201 (a) of the Crimes Act 2009 and one (1) count each of Obtaining Financial Advantage contrary to section 326 (1) of the Crimes Act 2009.

Prosecution’s basis of application was three-fold which is as follows:

(i)The nature and seriousness of the case – the volume of disclosures and expected length of a trial requires a court with a lesser volume of work to adjudicate on the matter;

(ii) The novel legal issues to be decided on and applied in Fiji – the adjudication on the term “Residence” was the novel issue; and

(iii) The public interest factor – six (6) of the accused were currently members of parliament, whilst one (1) was a member of parliament when charged however has since resigned.

Based on the above grounds, Prosecution filed for the transfer of the cases to the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court as seeing it was the most appropriate Court as a result.

Counsels representing the accused persons disagreed with the reasoning given by Prosecution stating the following:

(i) That the incumbent court was the most appropriate court by way of experience and the application by prosecution implied that the incumbent court was incompetent to handle such matters;

(ii) That the term “Residence” has already been defined in numerous decisions of the High Court and Family Court (Adoption matters) as such there was no novelty in said term;

(iii) That the application of the term “public interest” was not reserved to office holders whom are charged with an offence (like the accused persons) but was a blanket term applied to all persons charged with an offence; and

(iv) That the charged offences were summary offences and as per Section 4 (1)(c) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 the offences are to be tried by the Magistrate’s Court.

In his ruling, Resident Magistrate Jeremaia Savou stated that based on the above-mentioned discussions and pursuant to Section 191 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009, the matter/s shall be transferred to the High Court.

All accused persons are now required to appear in the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court on 03 January 2022.