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Court to sentence Chaudhry

Mere Naleba
Friday, May 02, 2014

THE lawyer of former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry has asked High Court judge Justice Paul Madigan to make an order dismissing the three counts of breaching the Exchange Control Act without recording a conviction.

Chaudhry, who will be sentenced this afternoon, is charged under the Exchange Control Act for not declaring foreign currencies in his possession.

In his sentencing submission yesterday, his lawyer Matthew Hutchings told the court the question of culpability should be in his client's favour.

Mr Hutchings said his client was the prime minister of Fiji in 2000 and was the victim of three coups, was also held at gunpoint on two of those three coups.

He said his client was physically abused, tortured and held captive for 54 days during the 2000 coup.

"It would be fair to say that the democracies of the world empathised and sympathised with Mr Chaudhry," Mr Hutchings said.

Mr Hutchings also said the DPP was unable to identify a breach of the ECA.

The court hearing yesterday also heard from three prominent people giving character reference for Chaudhry.

Father Kevin Barr, former parliamentarian Taufa Vakatale and former minister for defence Ratu Epeli Ganilau were the defence's key character witnesses.