The Mau Patel Trial
|Mau (L); Patel (R) Photo: Fiji Village|
Fiji does not have a jury system. Instead, three assessors assist the judge to reach a verdict. In this case, two of the three assessors found Mau guilty and Patel was found not guilty. The judge overruled the not guilty recommendation and sentenced Mau (63) to 9 months jail and Patel (71) to 12 months. They did not express remorse for their offence. Justice Goundar's full judgment is posted below. The Weekend Readings include a post that deals with how one anti-government blog has handled this and other cases of corruption.
One reader comments:
On the one hand this good. It is the first real victory by FICAC and sends the strongest possible message to the community about corruption to date. The decision in my view looks right and the sentence hard but fair. People will think twice now before using positions of power and trust for personal gain. This speaks far louder than the PM's words on the topic.
On the other hand it is bad - it highlights much of the unfairness we have seen over the last 4 years. These two have been found guilty but dozens of CEO's and board members where removed with no-recourse, no charges. We have seen bigger issues at FHL Board recently but presumably because this involved a military-appointed board (and a key military person) it seems to have been swept under the carpet.
I applaud FICAC on pursuing this one but for real change the government needs to ensure FICAC treats its own the same way....and not just when they fall out of favour with the PM (think former finance minister).
And another reader writes:The trial seems to have depended on the evidence of Adish Naidu, the architect for Post Fiji. The judge accepted his evidence, and convicted both the defendants. The sentence was within the tariff for abuse of office cases. In fact Kunatuba in the Agriculture scam got a heavier sentence. I understand they are both appealing and that they will ask the Court of Appeal for bail. The case is a good example of everyone being equal before the law. The criticisms I have heard of the conviction and sentences seem to be more about the status of Motibhai, and less about the evidence.
WEEKEND READING. ♦ Allen Lockington Column ♦ Burying a Blog: Uneven Corruption Reporting ♦ Poverty Alleviation and Poverty Statistics ♦ People's Charter Pillar 7 (Provincial Development): For Discussion