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SUVA, 17 OCTOBER 2019 (DPP) — Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, has decided that no charges will be laid against Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in relation to allegations that he assaulted Opposition Member of Parliament, Pio Tikoduadua in the parliamentary precincts on 09 August.

Pryde said, “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,” said Pryde. (PACNEWS)