Disinformation #5. Nazhaat Shameem and Daniel Gounder in the Crosswires

 A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole.

Of course the blogs are also part of a concerted plan to attack and intimidate the judiciary to decide in a particular way in various politically interesting cases before the court.  So in fact the blogs are intended to prejudice the course of justice by distracting from what the evidence is, and by undermining the public's trust and confidence in the judiciary. -- Nazhat Shameem.

Daniel Goundar
Nazhat Shameem
In a posting on April 18th,  the blog Coup4.5 accused former High Court Judge Nazhat Shameem and Judge Daniel Goundar of what they claimed to be a serious breach of legal ethics. They said their behaviour would "come back to haunt the corrupt former high court judge and her lapdog, Fiji's hanging judge Daniel Goundar." I thought the accusation worth investigating.

The accusation was that some 3½ years after the judgment in the 2006 case of the State v Kunatuba, when Shameem found Kunatuba guilty and Goundar was the prosecutor, they were, in March 2010, " discussing the details of the pending Court of Appeal case at a workshop."

Further, that at the workshop Shameem was "coaching then Deputy Pubic Prosecutor (DPP) Aca Rayama and cautioned him with the words: I won't be there to convict him" in May when the Appeal was to be heard..

And now, a further two years later they are bringing their case against Shameem and Goundar to their readers' attention. One can only wonder why it took them so long?  Could someone associated with Coup4.5 now have a personal grievance against them or is this merely another case of run-in-the-mill disinformation?

For readers unfamiliar with the name Kunatuba, he was the Permanent Secretary of Agriculture appointed by the Qarase SDL Government who, in the lead up to the August 2001 election distributed some $16 million of farming equipment to Taukei. It was claimed he had proceeded without government approval and had abused public funds.  Four months later Bainimarama staged  his "clean up" corruption  coup.   Justice Shameem sentenced him to four years imprisonment on two counts of abuse of office.

Coup4.5 provided no background on Kunatuba or the "Agriculture Scam" that was headline news in 2006. Many people then thought it an election bribe that someone above Kunatuba had "authorised." Coup4.5 seemed not at all disturbed by Kunatuba's actions. It did, however, append part of the Appeal Court judgment. A link and part of the defence's case are provided at the end of this posting. The Appeal judges found the original High Court judgment sound and the sentence justified. Judge Goundar was not sitting on the Court of Appeal.
Wheat and chaff: what is most likely to have happened?

It is true that Nazhaat Shameem did conduct an Appeals workshop in March 2010. But... It was the 2010 appellate advocacy, an in-house affair held in the DPP's office. She was no longer a judge and Judge Goundar who was also present was not in the presiding panel in the Kunatuba Appeals case because he was obviously disqualified as the former prosecutor. So what they had was a normal legal workshop about the law on abuse of office, the law on the Court of Appeal Act and Rules, leave applications, bail pending appeal, robbery with violence, murder, manslaughter, provocation and self-defence amongst other subjects. 

This is the type of  discussion that occurs every day in universities and Law Schools around the world. All Law Schools discuss cases before the courts, even the pending ones, because that is how the law of precedent is taught. Several of such workshops which focus on the skills needed by lawyers to appear in the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in appeal cases have been held since then. One was held for  lawyers who were mainly from  private practice at the Independent Legal Services Commission (ILSC) only last week. The Kunatuba case is one of the most well known abuse of office cases in Fiji's legal history. It would obviously be referred to in any workshop involving legal practitioners and in university lectures and seminars where corruption and abuse of office is studied. How else can one explain the law of abuse of office without referring to actual cases? 

It is also true that the workshop could be construed as "coaching" prosecutors. But Shameem also conducts workshops for defence counsel, the Legal Aid Commission, NGOs and many other groups. This is her job. 

I  asked Nazhat Shameem abut the alleged conversation that was "heard" by Coup4.5's anonymous source. She said it was a "total fabrication", adding "And I certainly did not discuss with the prosecutors my thoughts on the case as the former presiding judge. No judges who sat on the Kunatuba appeal were present either. The case is and was simply treated as a case study and as legal precedent, defining the offence of abuse of office.There was no breach of legal and judicial ethics.
"The prosecutors who were present at the workshop all must know that this story is a mischievous fabrication designed to attack the judiciary, Judge Goundar and my workshops. I leave it to you to cover the story as you think fit."

In my opinion, the Coup4.5 posting is another example of disinformation.  I shall use it, along with the four earlier postings on disinformation, if I ever run a workshop on the blogs and the media.  They serve to illustrate the difference between the honest error of misinformation and the dishonesty of disinformation.

Nazhat Shameem is a popular target for the anti-blogs and she's appeared in three of my five disinformation articles. Attacks on a woman, an Indo-Fijian and a Muslim would certainly appeal to the macho, racist and Christian fundamendalist elements that form part of the opposition to the Bainimarama government. I'd be interested in readers' comments on why so much venom has been directed her way.

Link to the Appeals Court judgment (click), and an extract which indicates Kunatuba was not acting alone (my emphasis) —

[41] The appellant denied that he acted arbitrarily in any way in the implementation of the Affirmative Action Farming Assistance Scheme. He said that the Scheme was not new but was a continuation of an on-going scheme already in place before July 2000. All the appellant did was to remove the requirement that applicants should provide 1/3 contributions for the Assistance. He said that this was done with the authority and approval of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests. He said that he had not gained from the Scheme but that the SDL Party and members of the Interim Civilian Government had actually gained in the General Elections. He said that all payments were made in accordance with standard regulations. He said that the dropping of the 1/3 contribution requirement was because the average Fijian villager could not save, leading to a life of idleness and non-productivity. In July 2000, he and his two deputies attended a meeting with the Minister, Mr. Tora and the Assistant Minister, Mrs Rigamoto to discuss the waiver of the 1/3 contribution requirement. The Minister approved with a hand-written note on the paper presented. The appellant and his deputies then agreed to follow normal accounting procedures to implement the Scheme. He said that the paper he presented to the Minister was typed into his Laptop Computer and taken to the Ministers. It was not typed on his Secretary’s computer and was not in any Inward and Outward Mail Registers.

Here are links to earlier Disinformation postings 

# 1 March 23. Coup4.5. Chief Justice and Nazhaat Shameem accused of having already written the draft constitution.
#2 March 28. Coup4.5. Fiji Indian Muslims (Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and Nazhaat Shameem) accused of plotting to steal Taukei land.
#3 April 7. Coup4.5. Bainimarama and government heads accused of being drunk while people in the West were being flooded out
 #4. April 20. FijiToday.  Lists police it claims are about to be sacked or reposted.


Not above the law said…
Nazhat Shameem is not above the law. Deposing of a legitimately elected government is a serious matters. A military junta is a very serious matter for any nation and must be independently investigated and those found guilty, or in any ay invlolved, must be punished accordingly. Whhether you or Nazhat like it or not there is a big cloud over her head. It would clearly appear she is not only a supporter of the junta but has personally benefited from it. Her involvement must be investigated and appropriate action taken. This will happen eventually. Of that there is no doubt. The defence that she is above the law because she is a women, an indian and a muslim is total rubbish.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Not above the law ... How did you read this into the story? No such claim was made. Or do you think Coup4.5 in some way represents the "law." Why also did you not comment on the main issue reported: the disinformation, and choose instead to write about the illegality of the coup that had no direct beating on the issue raised in the article? I fail to see how she helped depose your 'legitimately elected government', why she should not support what Bainimarama is trying to do, or how she has personally benefited from the Coup. She was a High Court during the Qarase period of government and her judgement was made in 2006, before the Coup. She was not a Bainimarama appointee. I would be surprised if the article caused you for even one moment to think you did not have all the answers.
Anonymous said…
she is discredited forever in the eyes of most and certainly in the legal profession. She is forever linked with the regime rather than taking a princilped stand, she has taken , with others the expedient and self serving route to keep her oar in. Presumably this regime could do anything to anyone and it would not change her commitment one bit.Please spare me the claim she is doing this for Fiji. She needed a source of income and was co-opted and in that she is complicit, not just a casual observer making a living.
Anonymous said…
Croz isn't it obvious? An ex - High Court judge who had a reputation for being tough on criminals especially the high profile ones has a lot of people in high places annoyed with her. She is now a victim of that vendetta! It seems that Above the Law is one of those annoyed people who have been creating a false picture of her to feed the nationalist frenzy. Good on you for exposing the lies. But I am sure there will be more.
Anonymous said…
Am I missing something? The only reason people think she is discredited is because of the disinformation about her. That means those who have written the disinformation are right, and the victim is wrong? People say she supports the regime but I don't see any evidence of it specially from what her workshops are about.Call me old-fashioned but I don't like attacks on women which falsely slur their character. They have no one to defend them and everyone is too hasty to believe what is a lie.
Anonymous said…
The reason for the disinformation is precisely to create the false picture shown in the posts above!
jealous? said…
Not above the law seems a little too defensive, is he the author of the anti-shameem campaign I wonder? The legal profession is a very competitive one, and what is not to hate about Nazhat? she was a pretty good lawyer and an even better judge.She is held in respect everywhere (yes in spite of the propaganda) and she is still easy on the eye. She also has a great sense of humor and doesn't mind dirtying her hands to help the p
Paula said…
Yes, agreed, there is misinformation, rumor, slander, and intimidation in some of the blogs. Like anything on the web and in the media, information provided needs to be scrutinized and verified. It seems that the misinformation provided is often a reflection of the general information environment that a government or regime creates. The less restrictions there are on freedom of speech, the higher the quality of public discourse. Unfortunately, we still have a situation in Fiji where many believe that the truth can only be spoken in the shadows. And even the UN, not normally known to be too critical of oppressive regimes seems to believe that Fiji's media are in self censorship mode. So it not really surprising that such an environment breeds disinformation. Why would I read a blog that is biased (like yours) if I can pick up a high quality newspaper that scrutinizes the government's actions and describes what is done wrong and right?
Croz Walsh said…
@ Paula, You have written of misinformation. I'm talking about disinformation as the title indicates. The former is a mistake; the latter a deliberate lie. But I agree Fiji needs a greatly improved mainstream media. It always has.
Anonymous said…
There is only one person on the defensive here, and rightly so.
Anonymous said…

Why is Justice Goundar being abused by coup 4.5? What is the link between him and Nazhat Shameem? I understand Justice Goundar is a staunch christain, without any political background, while Shameem is a muslim. Only common fact between them is their ethnicity. Is coup 4.5 abusing them because of their race? Didn't Justice Goundar convicted all the soldiers involved in the custody deaths and imprisoned them? Didn't he rule the immunity decree did not apply to the offence of murder? So if Shameem and Goundar are at crosswires, they are at crosswires on principles, human rights and the rule of law, unlike the commentators of coup 4.5 who stand for extremists, racist and terrorist propoganda.
Anonymous said…
As a member of public, I sat in the Kunatuba trial. Most SDL members were defence witnesses including Qarase. The Court record will confirm this. They were signing referrals to the scheme/scam so that they could win the election in August. Qarase gave evidence. He appeared to have been sufferring from wilful blindness syndrome when the scam was operating under his prime ministership. Croz, I suggest you write to the Fiji Courts and obtain the court record of Kunutuba trial and do an opinion on who you think were the real culprits behind abuse of nearly $18m of public funds. One thing is for sure, it was not the trial judge or the prosecutor.
Anonymous said…
i think Goundar will be on trial for taking an illegal oath as well won't he ??
Anonymous said…
Poor Qarase. Caught with his hand in the Agriculture vote scam, he has been deprived of the fruits of public office since 2006. Now he must rely on C.5 to spin lies about people to get back in power.And to the fruits of office.
Anonymous said…
Yes the coup 4.5 author is very defensive, caught out in the lies he tells repeatedly.
Anonymous said…
Not above the law thinks it is okay to hit below the belt. Allow me to take him back to the Speight coup of 2000 when the then Chief Justice - Justice Tuivaga soiled his reputation in the filth of the coup writing decrees and admitted that working with the army was the best option. To the best of my knowledge Justice Shameem refused to take up a position afte the Bainimarama coup and yet, she was a star performer on the bench during her term prior to this. So not above the law would have us believe that it was okay for Justice Tuivaga because of his ethnicity. Surprisingly, not a single call had come from these great democrats and defenders of law against Justice Tuivaga whose actions irreversibly destroyed the image of the judiciary in Fiji. Not above the law, learn to walk before start running!You purely show your bias and immaturity.
Anonymous said…
Naz Shameem was one of the co-conspirators in the 2006 coup - ask her police bodyguards - she was in contact with Frank Bainimarama leading up to the coup. She will be exposed one of these days.
Anonymous said…
Judges and former judges really do get down in the filth in fijian politics is it any wonder they import them from another tarnished regime in Sri Lanka? oOn another note, you really would never know in fiji who your actual freinds are would you?? The only respected jurists here have left to take up other roles.As Tuivaga was mentioned, he was really the beginning of the end...and i am afraid to say the further this country gets from westminster democracy and a truly independant judicary the more it becomes a basket case like the others in the region who think they can make it up as they go along.
Anonymous said…
Ask Shameem's bodyguards for what! What a crap? Apart from PM and AG noone in Fiji have bodyguards. I have always seen Shameem and the President walking around town, alone. Another lie that she was plotting the coup in the presence of her bodyguards. By the way, the discussion is about Kunatuba case and SDL's involvement in the scam. Stick to the issue and stop abusing a woman, unless of course, if you are woman basher.
Anonymous said…
Croz, now I am interested in reading the trial evidence of Kunatuba trial. Can you publish it in your website, please?
Anonymous said…
How do we jump from talking to Frank to conspiring with him? Did the police hear them planning a coup? Hello?!
Anonymous said…
@anon 10.25
Yeah yeah. She plotted the coup, she conspired with Judge Goundar,she drafted the decrees, and she caused the earthquake in Suva last week. And ask her bodyguards, she is running an organized crime racket in Victoria Arcade! We are getting the picture. You hate her.
Anonymous said…
You think Goundar should be prosecuted for taking unlawful oath but you make not mention of Justice Temo, Justice Sosefo, Master Tuilevuka,Magistrates Cabelawa, Bainivalu, Naivalu, Rabuku, and so on. Aren't they all in teh same boat. But Goundar should be chucked out because of his race. At the end of the day, the issue is race. Goundar and Shameem, both indians, must be prosecuted becuase they have dared to challenge the corrupt and racist establishment. Dream on mate for Goundar to be prosecuted. Worry about Qarase being put away for a long period for corruption.
Anonymous said…
Ode to c.4.5
Liar liar
Pants on fire
Anonymous said…
C 4.5 incites hate and terror. All those supporting C 4.5 will one day be accountable before God.
Anonymous said…
It is so obvious that the old boys network feel threatend by a woman(Shameem) and a young man (Goundar. The point Coup 4.5 is making is that these two personality of indian decent can rock the racist and corrupt establishment that have existed in Fiji for years. The orginary people of Fiji are right behind Shameem and Goundar who have proven themselves through their judgments that they have great legal minds. Never in the history of Fiji we have a seen a judiciary who treats everybody equal. For the first time in the histroy of Fiji, the judiciary rocks. Well done CJ Gates.

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