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Fiji Time: 1:49 AM on Monday 21 April

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Five years

Mere Naleba
Thursday, December 12, 2013

PITA Driti's good service record in the military was ruled out when he committed a serious offence, said High Court judge Justice Paul Madigan yesterday.

Driti, the former Republic of Fiji Military Force land force commander, was sentenced to five years in jail and is eligible for parole after four years.

After the sentence was passed, Driti shook the hand of his lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo and spent a few moments with one of his two sons before he was whisked away by police officers for day one of his five-year sentence.

Outside the courtroom Driti smiled at familiar faces that lined the corridor of the courthouse.

In his sentencing Justice Madigan said, "Mr Vosarogo urges me again to pass a short sentence and then suspend it, on the basis of your clear record, your service to the nation, the potential suffering of your family and your loss of livelihood.

"I regard this submission as being totally unrealistic.

"Your good service record and dedication to the State is ruled out by your seditious and anarchistic entreaties to Major Tagicakibau to do what he could to 'bring down' if not eliminate the Attorney-General from the executive branch."

The fact of the case was that on August 1 and October 31, 2010, Driti, while holding the post of Brigadier-General for RFMF and also commander land force, attempted to seduce Manasa Ralawa Tagicakibau from his duty and allegiance to Fiji.

The court heard that in 2010, Driti made remarks of his dislike and frustration about the Attorney-General and how he was alleged to have been controlling the decisions made by the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

"Your frustration manifested itself verbally in your dislike for the influence you perceived that the A-G had on the Prime Minister, to the prejudice of the Military Council of which you were a senior member."

Mr Vosarogo spoke briefly to his client after the sentence was passed before making time for media queries.

"We have to go and analyse the judgment and we will be in a position to comment further," he said.

"After analysing the sentence and the judgment then we will decide if we are going to appeal the sentence."

Justice Madigan said, "I am not able in law to suspend a sentence of that term and in any event it would not be appropriate to suspend a sentence for such a serious and potentially destructive crime."