Ex-Fiji PM found guilty in corruption case

SUVA - Former Fiji prime minister Laisenia Qarese was found guilty of abuse of office Monday in a long-running corruption case dating back to the early 1990s.

Qarese, who became prime minister in 2000 and was ousted in a military coup six years later, was convicted on nine charges of abuse of office and failing to discharge his duty in a case brought by Fiji's anti-corruption watchdog.

The charges related to his time as a director of a government investment company called Fijian Holdings from 1992 to 1995, when he was accused of putting the interests of his family and home village before the public.

Qarese, who pleaded not guilty, will be sentenced on Tuesday and could face up to four years in jail.

The conviction means he will not be eligible to contest elections scheduled to be held in the South Pacific nation in 2014.

In a separate case, another former Fiji prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, who lost office in a coup in 2000, is due to face trial in the next few months for allegedly breaching foreign exchange laws.

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