TEARS were shed and emotions high as former prime minister Laisenia Qarase was reunited with his wife Leba and two grandchildren at their Moti St home in Suva yesterday.
Qarase was released yesterday morning after serving eight months of his 12-month jail term for an abuse of office-related charge.
"The first thing I did when I got home of course was I kissed my wife and two grandchildren that live with me," Mr Qarase said.
Family and close friends had started gathering at his home earlier this week, expecting his arrival on Tuesday.
"They (family) were taken by surprise, I rang them that I was going to be home in about 30 minutes but we were here within 10 minutes," he said in an interview.
"They painted the steps recently so it looks a little bit new and I see that the plants and all look pretty good so I am fairly happy to be back at home. I have met up with my family and friends and I expect many more to come later today and in the evening. It's good to be out and be free from a confined and regulated environment in prison."
Mr Qarase said he had learnt a lot when he was in prison, worthwhile experiences as far as he was concerned.
"There have been some very positive lessons for me personally, and of course there are negative ones but overall I think I have gained more being in prison than what I would have learnt outside on those particular areas that struck me when I was there.
"I am glad to be out and I now have gone past prison. My priority now is to really focus ahead and then determine what I need to do next."
Mr Qarase said he planned on getting some rest and travel to his village in Mavana, Lau with his family.
He is now waiting for the judgement on his appeal against his conviction.