December 15, 2016 8:09 am

DPP drops charges against Samisoni in political violence case

The Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday withdrew charges against Suva businesswoman and former parliamentarian, Mere Samisoni. Mrs Samisoni was charged with one count of urging political violence in 2009.  Semisi Lasike and Apete Vereti were also accused of the same count. The charge against Mr Lasike was also dropped but Mr Vereti still faces the charge. […]

The Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday withdrew charges against Suva businesswoman and former parliamentarian, Mere Samisoni.

Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams, Mere Samisoni and local counsel Filimoni Vosorongo outside Suva court yesterday.
Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams, Mere Samisoni and local counsel Filimoni Vosorongo outside Suva court yesterday.

Mrs Samisoni was charged with one count of urging political violence in 2009.  Semisi Lasike and Apete Vereti were also accused of the same count.

The charge against Mr Lasike was also dropped but Mr Vereti still faces the charge.  Mr Vereti’s bail has been extended until January 31.

It was alleged that between September and December 23 in 2011, the group had “intentionally urged one Waisea Kaloumaira to burn the city of Suva and to overthrow by force or violence the Government of Fiji”.

Former politician Mataiasi Ragigia, who passed away in 2012, was also charged in the same case.

The DPP had filed a “nolle prosequi” after concluding that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with Samisoni and Vereti’s case.

Mrs Samisoni’s case was being defended by prominent New Zealand lawyer QC Sir Peter Williams until his death last year. QC William’s widow, Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams, had taken up the case since then.

Lady Heeni told NZ media that the case had wider significance than the individuals involved.

HEENI: “The legal grounds raised at the voir dire hearing were important from a human rights perspective and the point of view of the administration of justice in Fiji.”

According to Lady Heeni, she raised some points at a “voir dire” hearing which resulted in the charge being dropped.

  • A lack of electronic recording at police station when the police officer took statements
  • Dr Samisoni being held in police custody for five days in police cells without proper legal authority
  • The long periods without a lawyer while accused persons were held in custody
  • The appalling conditions and lack of hygiene in police cells
  • Breaching judges rules in cross-examination when police took statements from accused
  • Not showing co-accused statements to accused.

Mrs Samisoni told reporters outside the court yesterday that the right decision was made after seven years in court.

SAMISONI: “I am so pleased that justice has been served in Fiji. I am very pleased and I applaud the system.”