FORMER prime minister Laisenia Qarase has been found guilty by the assessors on six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharging his duty with respect to property in which he had a private interest.
Family, friends and supporters of the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party wiped their tears silently in court as the assessors announced their guilty verdict on all nine counts, saying Mr Qarase had abused his powers for personal gain.
The 71-year-old from Mavana in Lau bowed his head in despair as the assessors were asked whether Mr Qarase had abused his powers for personal gain to which they all responded in the positive.
With a packed courtroom, some of his family members were asked go outside because it was too small to cater for all of them.
After two hours of deliberating on the charges, the assessors returned to court and unanimously found Mr Qarase guilty.
Mr Qarase had applied, facilitated and allowed the purchase of Class A Fijian Holdings (FHL) shares for certain companies when he was a director of FHL, financial adviser to the Fijian Affairs Board and adviser to the Great Council of Chiefs.
He applied for 180,000 ordinary FHL shares on behalf of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited.
He also applied to purchase 200,000 Class A shares for Mavana Investment Limited, of which he was a director.
He also applied for 200,000 shares in Q-Ten Investments Limited, which is owned by his family.
Mr Qarase shook hands and thanked his counsel Tupou Draunidalo before leaving the courthouse with his family.
High Court judge Justice Priyantha Fernando thanked the assessors for their commitment and their patience despite long hours of court sessions during the trial.
Justice Fernando will deliver judgment this afternoon.