THE High Court in Suva was asked to be lenient when sentencing former Native Land Trust Board general manager Kalivati Bakani, who has been convicted of five counts of abuse of office.
Bakani had earlier admitted to using extinct mataqali funds and government grants to finance businessman Ballu Khan's IT company Pacific Connex through Vanua Development Corporation Limited (VDCL), a limited liability company owned by NLTB.
Bakani's defence counsel Filimoni Vosarogo presented three character witnesses who all said Bakani was a man of integrity and had high moral standards, adding they were surprised when he was charged with abuse of office.
Former Works Ministry permanent secretary Anasa Vocea, former Native Land Reserves Commissioner Ilaitia Caginavanua, and Bible Society of the South Pacific general secretary Solomoni Duru gave character evidence.
The three men went to school with Bakani and said they knew him well. They said Bakani was a humble man and a lot could be learnt from his life.
Mr Vosarogo then made submissions to the court on what sentence the court should give Bakani.
He said a suspended sentence should be considered as Bakani was remorseful and it showed in the admission of the charges.
The court adjourned the case to Tuesday when submissions in mitigation would be made for Bakani's co-accused, Keni Dakuidreketi, who was convicted on similar charges on Wednesday.