FORMER prime minister Laisenia Qarase will be sentenced by the High Court in Suva tomorrow after submissions in mitigation were heard from his lawyer Tupou Draunidalo yesterday.
Qarase was convicted on Monday of six charges of abuse of office and three charges of discharge of duty with respect to a property in which he had a private interest.
Ms Draunidalo pleaded on humanitarian grounds for a non-custodial sentence.
In her sentencing submissions before Justice Priyantha Fernando, Ms Draunidalo brought to the fore her client's medical condition and the impact of the four-year-old court case on Qarase's family.
She asked the court to be understanding and compassionate while considering the appropriate punishment for Qarase.
She said the court should consider a number of sentencing options.
"The court can consider a number of sentencing options like discharge without conviction, an order for community work or sentence and conviction with suspension," Ms Draunidalo said.
She said if the court felt the need to punish Qarase, there were non-custodial ways.
She said the court should not treat Qarase differently from the others.
Ms Draunidalo highlighted the 71-year old's personal circumstances, including his health. She also presented to the court two medical reports highlighting that Qarase was suffering from diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease.
She said his medical conditions needed to be appropriately monitored.
The court also heard that Qarase's wife Leba had a stroke, attributed to stress from all that had been happening to her family.
Ms Draunidalo said that life had not been easy for Qarase since 2006 and he had been denied his prime ministerial pension by the government.
The court also heard that Qarase, apart from his medical condition, was looking after his three grandchildren who live with him. His five children have all left Fiji since 2006.
Ms Draunidalo said Qarase was a well-known person in Fiji and held the position of the interim prime minister from 2000 to 2001; he was re-elected prime minister twice in 2001 and 2006 after which he was removed.
Meanwhile, prosecution lawyer Elizabeth Yang said taking into account the unanimous guilty verdict from the three assessors and the judge's verdict, the maximum sentence for this offence of three years imprisonment was applicable.
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