Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (C), pictured on July 12, 2022 at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, before the arrest of his son in Australia

Fiji PM ‘alarmed’ by son’s assault trial in Australia

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (center), July 12, 2022 at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, before his son’s arrest in Australia – Copyright AFP CHANDAN KHANNA

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama on Saturday expressed concern that his son was facing multiple charges of domestic violence in Australia.

Ratu Meli Bainimarama, 36, appeared in court on Thursday on 17 counts, including assault, strangulation and distribution of intimate images without consent.

“My son is not a member of the Fiji government and this is not a political or diplomatic issue,” the Fiji prime minister said, but added that he and his wife were “deeply concerned and troubled by the allegations.”

“During my tenure as prime minister, I have openly and regularly condemned violence against women and children, and this commitment is unwavering,” he added.

Bainimarama said it was “inappropriate” to comment on “any issues before the Australian courts”.

Ratu Meli Bainimarama was arrested on 8 September in Queensland and extradited to New South Wales.

Initially, an Australian judge issued an order to keep his name under wraps, preventing the media from identifying him.

But a court in Sydney overturned the ruling on Friday, with national broadcaster ABC challenging it.

The prime minister’s son faces five charges of assault causing bodily harm, four of assault, four of non-consensual strangulation, two of stalking or intimidation, and one each of intentionally distributing intimate images and destroying property.

Bainimarama was released on bail and the case was adjourned until October 13 at Windsor Court in northwest Sydney.

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