JOSEPH Rao heaved a sigh of relief after the Suva Magistrates Court acquitted him of a charge of general dishonesty brought against by the Fiji National University (FNU).
Mr Rao, a former Tourism and Hospitality student was awarded a gold medal in 2010 but it was taken back by the university that reasoned he faked his marks and gave false information to the university's administration in order to obtain the prestigious award.
Yesterday, Mr Rao could not hold back his tears when he recalled the humiliation he had endured for the past three years.
"Now, I will finally sleep well after a long time," he said.
"I was a victim of intimidation but I never stopped fighting because deep inside me, I know the truth will finally set me free," he added.
Mr Rao was the best Tourism and Hospitality student and his medal was presented to him by the Minister for Education Filipe Bole.
The university then asked Mr Rao to return the gold medal to have his name engraved on the medal piece.
However, when he enquired about his gold medal, he was informed by the administration that he dishonestly obtained it and therefore, he was not the rightful recipient.
In his judgment, Magistrate Yohan Liyanage said it was significant that Mr Rao made no attempt to pursue his goal by using unlawful means.
"This attitude is not a strange one to expect from a young enthusiastic student who is at the edge of claiming a gold medal which can support his future in many ways," Magistrate Liyanage said.
He said the court was of the view that it was doubtful to conclude whether the mind of the accused person acted dishonestly.