By Nanise Volau
Not guilty is former Prime Minister now leader of the opposition’s SODELPA Party Sitiveni Rabuka's plea at the Suva Magistrates Court today on the charge of false declarations.
The charge was read to him at his second court appearance in a packed court room.
FICAC, the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption had charged Rabuka last week with one count of providing false declaration of assets, income and liabilities under the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act No. 4 of 2013.
FICAC alleges that in 2017, Rabuka provided false declaration of assets and liabilities to the Supervisor of Elections by failing to provide information pertaining to a tax liability of F$ 316,956.20 (US$153,820 ) with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services (FRCS).
The court was also told that the SODELPA Leader also failed to declare his investment and interest income with Raghwan Constructions Limited in the amount of $200,000 (US$97,064 ) and $16,000 (US$7,765 ) respectively and also a liability of $120,000 (US$58,241 ).
Rabuka's plea was taken before Magistrate Joji Boseiwaqa.
Magistrate Boseiwaqa disclosed in court that his father had attended school with the accused in the 1960s, and enquired whether prosecution or defence lawyers had any objections.
FICAC lawyer Rashmi Asla offered no objections and neither did Rabuka’s lawyers of Filimoni Vosarogo and Lynda Tabuya.
In his submissions, Vosarogo asked for time as it was the intention of the defence to challenge the caution interview of his client.
He suggested that FICAC provide the necessary statements to all parties in the case.
Vosarogo also asked the court for FICAC to disclose the original complainant of the case, a request Magistrate Boseiwaqa upheld.
After the short hearing, a clearly emotional Rabuka existed the courthouse to a big crowd of party supporters and well wishers.
"We are in this together I thanked you all for coming to show your support this morning," the former PM told supporters.
The case will be called again on 15 June for mention.