The hearing of FICAC v George Shiu Raj case that was supposed to take place in the Rakiraki Magistrates court today did not proceed.
FICAC the prosecuting authority in this case made an application to the presiding Magistrate Madam Suliana Tabaiwalu, asking her to recuse herself from hearing the case.
The application was based upon perceived bias shown by the Magistrate against FICAC. Commission Prosecutor Paul Madigan then presented the court with three incidences where bias was evident but stated that they were not limited to these incidences only.Such incidences include Madam Tabaiwalu’s refusal to sign FICAC search warrants on 24th April 2008 despite the existence of a circular at the time from the Chief Magistrate to all Magistrates in Fiji to cooperate with FICAC officers, and in another case she blatantly assisted the Defense through the invitation to make submissions on the legality of FICAC on September 12th at Rakiraki Court despite Justice Nazat Shameem’s ruling in the case of FICAC v Inoke Devo Hac 177 of 2007.
Mr. Madigan held that all these actions showed a complete disregard for the status of FICAC as a legitimate prosecuting authority and would signal to the interested observer a definite bias against the institution which puts the prosecution in fear of being unable to receive a fair and proper trial on the issues.
The defendant’s lawyer Mr. Samuel K. Ram in his submission stated that despite the decision in the Bainimarama v Qarase case, the promulgation establishing FICAC was still null and void and so was the body itself.
His justification was that the President did not have the power to promulgate in the way that he did because it was not in the exercise of his sovereign powers.
Ram added that the charges signed by FICAC were non existent and that Madam Tabaiwalu should not recuse herself from the case as there was no evidence to support the allegations levelled against her.
FICAC maintains that such biases are evident in court documents.
Madam Tabaiwalu has adjourned the case to 26th November 2008 to decide on whether she should recuse herself or not and the legality of FICAC from submissions made today.