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Fiji Time: 9:28 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Christmas in prison

Mere Naleba
Thursday, December 06, 2012

THE Fiji Court of Appeal has refused former prime minister Laisenia Qarase's application for bail pending appeal.

Qarase was convicted of six counts of abuse of office and three of discharge of duty with respect to property in which he had a private interest. He was jailed for 12 months.

For his appeal, Qarase relied on 10 submissions. He submitted that his continued incarceration was detrimental to his health and family. This was objected to by FICAC lawyer Vincent Perera who said this was additional ground for submissions and he was not aware of it.

Qarase said he was not placed in the infirmary although recommended by the government and prison medical board. He submitted that other persons of similar age and slightly better health but convicted for similar offences had been placed in the infirmary.

Qarase included in his appeal that he currently faced charges in the High Court which were of a complex matter and that he should make himself available to instruct his lawyers or defend himself in the proceedings.

He said he had not breached any bail condition and he was ready to produce sureties, surrender his travel documents and report daily as part of bail conditions.

He also submitted that the sentence passed by the trial judge were harsh and excessive. Mr Perera said Qarase had not raised any issues in the High Court regarding his alleged difficulties in preparing for his other court cases.

Resident Justice of Appeal Suresh Chandra said the appeal although arguable did not reach the threshold of being highly likely to succeed.

"The matters referring to the period of the sentence likely to be served up to the hearing of the appeal and the conditions of health of the appellant do not take the applications any further," he said.

He ruled that the appeal be taken up for hearing at the next session of the Court of Appeal in February next year.