Fiji's Prime Minister and FijiFirst leader Frank Bainimarama speaks to supporters at a community hall meeting during the Fijian election campaign in Suva, Fiji, 11 December 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/MICK TSIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Abuse of power trial against former Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama begins

Sydney, Australia, July 17 (EFE).- A court in Fiji on Monday began a trial against former Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, charged with abuse of power for allegedly halting a police investigation.

Bainimarama, who led a 2006 coup that brought him to power and later won the 2014 election, is charged along with suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho for allegedly stopping an investigation into the misappropriation of funds at the University of the South Pacific.

According to the charges, the former president, who lost power in the 2022 elections, directed Qiliho to stop the investigation in July 2020.

Quilho then passed the order to his subordinates with the aim of ending the investigation, local newspaper Fiji Times reported.

Both Bainimarama and Qiliho were released on bail after being arrested in March.

They could face prison terms if found guilty during the two-week trial.

The charges against them stem from a police complaint filed in 2019 by the University of the South Pacific about the alleged mismanagement of its funds by a former employee.

Fiji, with a population of more that 900,000, adopted a new constitution in 2013, which was done without public consultation.

The country faces huge tensions between the Melanesian community and Indo-Fijians following its independence from the United Kingdom in 1970. EFE

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