BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
THE Member of Parliament for Gao-Bugotu Constituency Samuel Eaney Manetoali has been acquitted of all 18 counts of conversion after the presiding Principal Magistrate Fatimah Taeburi ruled that there was no sufficient evidence to support the prosecution’s case on the charges.
Mr Manetoali was acquitted on the ‘no case to answer’ stage and now is a free man.
On Friday last week defence lawyer Leslie Kwaiga submitted a ‘no case to answer’ submission on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Magistrate Taeburi ruled that the prosecution should prove beyond reasonable doubt but on this case there were no evidence to prove that Mr Manetoali had convert the sum of $100,000 for his own use.
It was alleged that around mid-December 2014, the newly elected DCC Government made a Cabinet decision to advance a grant of $100,000 to each of the 50 constituencies.
It was alleged that on December 24, the amount of $100,000 was paid to Gao/Bugotu Constituency through SIG ANZ cheque and was processed by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD).
This cash cheque payment was allegedly paid to the Gao/Bugotu Constituency.
It was further alleged that Manetoali signed out the cheque at MRD on 24 December 2014 and handed it to his CDO at that time.
His CDO cashed the cheque and handed $100,000 to the accused who then on 25 December 2014, allegedly spent the money for a Christmas party which was held at his then Lengakiki residence.
Office of the Director Public Prosecution appears for the crown on the case while L & L lawyers represent the accused.