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Fijian PM’s son arrested in Australia

The son of Fijian prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama has been arrested, detained and charged in Australia on 17 counts including stalking, assault, and choking.

Ratu Meli Bainimarama, 35, is also accused of damaging property and distributing an intimate image without consent.

The Australian court had initially agreed to suppress information including the proceedings and the name of the accused, but this was overturned on Friday.

The timing is awkward for the Fijian prime minister as he gears up for elections and heads overseas to London this weekend to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Bainimarama has spoken out for the first time since the arrest, expressing his concern.

Fiji's prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama at a local function this week. Picture Fijian Government
The son of Fijian prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama (pictured) has been arrested, detained and charged in Australia on 17 counts including stalking, assault, and choking. Picture: Fijian Government

“My son is not a member of the Fijian government and this is not a political or diplomatic matter. Of course, Mary and I are deeply concerned and disturbed about the charges.

During my service as Prime Minister I have openly and routinely condemned violence perpetrated against women and children, and that commitment is unwavering,” Mr Bainimarama said in a statement.

“However, it is not appropriate for me to comment on any matter before the Australian courts. My focus must be on my duty to secure a safer and more prosperous future for all Fijian families. In the meantime, I ask the media to allow due process to take its course.”

Ratu Meli Bainimarama is yet to enter a plea and was granted bail. The offences allegedly took place in Sydney between February and May, but Mr Bainimarama was arrested last week after a police report was made earlier this month.

Meli Bainimarama, the son of Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama charged for domestic violence in Australia. Picture Meli Bainimarama Facebook
Ratu Meli Bainimarama, 35, is accused of damaging property and distributing an intimate image without consent. Picture: Meli Bainimarama Facebook

Queensland police arrested Mr Bainimarama and then extradited him to New South Wales where the charges were laid initially and Mr Bainimarama was detained until Friday when bail was granted.

His lawyer had successfully applied for a nationwide suppression order on the case over the weekend. He had argued there was a risk information that wouldn’t be allowed in court would be published and prejudice a jury.

The suppression order was lifted on Friday morning with the court saying there was nothing extraordinary about the case that warrants secrecy.

Mr Bainimarama is due back in court on October 13.

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