Former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase will definitely spend Christmas and New Year in jail as his application for bail pending appeal has been rejected by the Fiji Court of Appeal.
In his ruling delivered today, Fiji Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Suresh Chandra said the grounds of appeal do not meet the threshold for granting of bail and there are no exceptional circumstances to grant bail.
Justice Chandra said in the present instance, he has taken the view that the appeal though arguable does not reach the threshold of being highly likely to succeed.
He said Qarase is 72 years old and as a ground for bail it has been stated that he has hypertension, diabetes, gout and coronary artery issues however Justice Chandra said as stated in previous cases that health does not fall to be dealt with differently in the consideration of bail applications.
One of the grounds for bail was that Qarase is not being placed in the infirmary though recommended by the Government or Prison Medical Board in view of his age and health issues.
On this, Justice Chandra said this relates to administrative issues and the prison authorities should seriously consider Qarase’s age and health condition in placing him in a suitable environment while he is serving his sentence.
Qarase’s appeal on conviction and sentence for the Fijian Holdings Limited case is expected to be heard in February.
In the bail application, Qarase’s lawyer, Tupou Draunidalo said Qarase has never breached his bail conditions, his passport is with the court and he has two sureties who are businesspeople.
Draunidalo asked the court if Qarase could be granted bail now while his appeal process is heard in February next year.
Qarase was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by High Court Judge Justice Priyantha Fernando in August after he was found guilty of six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharging his duty with respect to property in which he had a private interest.
Meanwhile, we have sent questions to the Fiji Corrections Services on Justice Chandra’s comment that prison authorities should seriously consider Qarase’s age and health condition in placing him in a suitable environment while he is serving his sentence.
Fiji Corrections Services are yet to comment.
Story by: Vijay Narayan & Ronal Deo