FijiFirst Leader Voreqe Bainimarama, former Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and former Health Minister Dr Neil Prakash Sharma have been granted bail by the Suva Magistrates Court.

The three appeared before Acting Chief Magistrate Waleen George for abuse of office-related charges.

State Counsel, Laisani Tabuakuro did not object to bail but asked for strict bail conditions including $10,000 (US$5,000) cash bail.

Tabuakuro said the charges are serious as the value of the tender in question was $1 million (US$500,000)

She also highlighted that this was a 2011 matter and they want the case to be heard early.

However, Sharma’s counsel Ritesh Singh stated that this was unreasonable.

Gul Fatima who is representing Bainimarama informed the court that her client’s passport was not released by the court registry after his acquittal in the previous matter.

The Magistrate then stood down the matter for a while to check on the status of Bainimarama’s passport.

When the matter started again, the Magistrate noted that Bainimarama had surrendered his diplomatic passport in the previous case and upon asking, Bainimarama informed the court that his other passport had expired.

The state counsel then stated that in that case, there should be an order from the court that he cannot apply for any new passport.

However, Magistrate George said that a stop departure order could be issued but Bainimarama could still apply for a passport in case of an emergency.

Magistrate George took into consideration that Bainimarama and Sayed-Khaiyum had not breached their bail undertaking.

The Magistrate released the three on strict conditions with personal surety in the sum of $10,000 (US$5,000) and two suitable sureties in the same sum.

They have been ordered not to interfere with prosecution witnesses, not to re-offend while on bail and to surrender their travel documents.

A stop departure has been issued against the three.

They have also been restricted from changing their addresses.

The matter has been adjourned to 19 March.

Sharma is charged with two counts of abuse of office, and two counts of breach of trust, while Bainimarama is charged with one count of abuse of office and Sayed-Khaiyum is charged with one count of abuse of office and one count of obstructing of justice.

It is alleged that they failed to comply with statutory requirements for tenders as stipulated under the 2010 Procurement Regulation.