Character witness Father Barr's statement held as contempt of court
Chaudhry family celebrate: "Not a bad Friday after all; he is not in prison"
Rajendra Chaudhry: "Chaudhry sentence: Huge fine $2 million and order for repatriation. Size of fine demonstrates vindictiveness especially if the funds are to be repatriated and deposited with a bank in Fiji.Sentencing comments by Madigan re Chaudhry lying in Parliament etc - all of which were unfounded - demonstrate the incompetence of Madigan.He is a disgrace to the Judiciary. He must be sacked."
Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry has been fined 2 million Fijian dollars by High Court Judge Justice Paul Madigan. Chaudhry has to pay the fine by the 30th of June this year.
Justice Madigan has ruled that failure to pay the fine will result in Chaudhry serving 15 months in prison.
He has to serve a minimum term of 12 months in jail if the fine is not paid. Chaudhry’s conviction has also been recorded which means that he is ineligible to contest the 2014 general election. Mahendra Chaudhry has to comply with the Exchange Control Act by the 31st of July this year which means that he needs to repatriate the 1.5 million Australian dollars held in Australia. Failure to do so will make him liable to prosecution for continuing breach of the Exchange Control Act. The prohibition for Chaudhry to access the 1.5 million Australian dollars has also been lifted. Chaudhry cannot travel outside Fiji until he complies with the court’s order. While passing his sentence and highlighting the mitigation in the case, Justice Madigan highlighted that character witness, Father Kevin Barr launched into what can only be described as a political anti-government speech in court. The judge said Father Barr cast disparaging remarks on the nature of the proceedings against Chaudhry. Justice Madigan said in the light of this contempt of court, he gives no weight whatsoever to Father Barr’s testimonial. Judge Madigan said Chaudhry’s counsel must be seen as a party to this contempt of court as Chaudhry’s lawyer, Matthew Hutchings knew this was coming because he had a typed copy of Father Barr’s testimonial. Justice Madigan also highlighted that the issue of these funds held in Australia by Chaudhry was raised in parliament on the 2nd of December 2005 by the then Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. The judge said the public record of proceedings which were before him reveals that Chaudhry vehemently denied the existence of the money. Justice Madigan said such deceit in hiding the existence of the money for so long from the authorities can only be an aggravating factor in this sentence. He said Chaudhry has not shown a shred of remorse for his breaches and appears to have been in a state of denial since 2008. Source: Fijivillage News