The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Christopher Pryde, has decided that no charges will be laid against the Prime Minister in relation to allegations that he assaulted a Member of Parliament in the parliamentary precincts on 9th August 2019.
Mr Pryde said that under section 73 of the Constitution, Parliament has the power to discipline members of Parliament. Those powers are further particularised under the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1965 which provides for the prosecution of offences such as assault committed by one member against another member.
Under section 20 of that Act, a person found guilty by Parliament for the offence of assault is liable to a fine of $400 or to imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or both.
As the altercation occurred within the precincts of Parliament, the Speaker exercised his authority and referred the matter to the Privileges Committee to hear evidence of the matter and to make findings on the allegation.
Those findings were accepted by Parliament which then endorsed and implemented a penalty.
The constitutional separation of powers doctrine applies to prevent the courts and the executive from interfering with a decision made by Parliament in the exercise of its constitutional authority.
Therefore, as the matter has now been dealt with by the Privileges Committee and those findings and recommendations have been accepted by Parliament, it would not be in the public interest for a second hearing to take place before the judiciary in the criminal courts.
This would, in effect, be subjecting the Prime Minister to double jeopardy contrary to section 14 (1) (b) of the Constitution after his matter has already been adjudicated on by the Privileges Committee and a decision made by Parliament after hearing the evidence from witnesses.
Had the matter not been heard by the Privileges Committee and dealt with by Parliament, there was sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court.
Accordingly, for these reasons, there will be no further action on this file and the matter is now closed.
The police docket has been returned to the police.
The Parliament of Republic of Fiji is debated the recommendations of Privileges Committee in the case of alleged assault by the Prime Minister of Fiji Mr Voreqe Bainimarama on NFP Parliamentarian Pio Tikoduadua in a speacial Parliamentary sitting.
The parliament is also debated on the alleged utterances by Pio Tikoduadua regarding the Prime Ministers family.
In Section 5.3.9 of the Report of Privileges Committee on the altercation between Mr Tikoduadua and Mr Bainimarama states that Mr Bainimarma confessed to have abused Mr Pio Tikoduadua because he was depressed and distraught.
The report states that:
“The Committee noted from the Hon. Prime Minister’s testimony that he pulled the collar to attract his attention about what he said about him. Furthermore, whilst responding to Hon. Mosese Bulitavu’s question, “Can you recall what words did you say?”, the Hon. Prime Minister responded and said “Well I abused him.”5 The Hon. Prime Minister further stated in his testimony that he was distraught and depressed.6”
The Hon. Prime Minister admitted that he was remorseful.
He told the Privileges Committee that he realised that he was wrong and immediately on the same day at around 3.30 p.m. he apologised to the Hon. Speaker.
He also advised the Hon. Speaker that he was willing to apologise to Hon. Pio Tikoduadua.
The Committee noted that in that regard, the Hon. Speaker attempted to arrange a meeting with Hon. Pio Tikoduadua and the Hon. Prime Minister but this meeting did not eventuate.
In Section 7.1 the Privileges Committee says that having scrutinised the evidence provided to the Committee, the Committee recommends the following to Parliament –
(a) that both the Hon. Prime Minister and Hon. Pio Tikoduadua to immediately issue their apologies in Parliament today; and
(b) if the Hon. Prime Minister and Hon. Pio Tikoduadua fail to do so, that they be suspended from Parliament for a period of six months, with immediate effect from 6 September 2019.
After claiming to have “abused” Mr Pio Tikoduadua, Prime Minister of Fiji escaped his six month suspension from the Fijian Parliament by apologizing to an empty parliament chamber.
Meanwhile, the victim of the assault, Mr Pio Tikoduadua suffered a major blow after the Fijian Parliament slapped him with a six month suspension on top of the shoving he faced by the Prime Minister.
“Regardless, Mr. Speaker I offer my unreserved apologies to him, to my colleagues, to the Parliament and, to you, Mister Speaker, for my actions,” said the Prime Minister while apologizing in the Parliament.
The Prime Minister says that he is remorseful and regrets of his actions and has unreservedly apologised to Mr Pio Tikoduadua (who was not in the parliament), the governement MP’s and the Speaker of the House.
” I fully admit that I momentarily and spontaneously let my emotions, and my love of family, get the better of me. My actions were not appropriate and should not have happened,” said the Prime Minister.
Mr Bainimarama says that he was depressed and distraught at the personal comments made by Pio Tikoduadua regarding his family when he grabbed Mr Tikoduadua by the lapel and shoved him in turn breaking his spectacles.
Mr Bainimarama held on to his seat by following the recommendations of the Privilege Committee to apologise or face 6 months suspension from the Parliament.
The Privilege Committee was primarily made up of his own Fiji First Party members and only two Opposition members.