A World Rugby statement confirmed that Kean will no longer be considered for the World Rugby Executive Committee, having initially been put forward for nomination after giving his backing to current World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont’s campaign to be re-elected for another four years.
Kean was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison after killing a man at the wedding of Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama’s daughter on 31 December 2006, while the former head of the Fijian Navy and prisons chief has also been condemned in two Amnesty reports.
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Kean, who was the uncle of the bride and is Bainimarama’s brother-in-law, was found to have beaten the uncle of the groom, John Whippy, to death at the wedding service after an altercation.
The Sunday Times also reported allegations against Kean that claims beatings and rapes were perpetrated by Fiji’s security forces while he was in charge of the prison service, with Kean accused of being in “support for corporal punishment”.
The paper also alleged Kean used homophobic and violent language in a “graphic recording” taken while he was in charge of the Fiji prison service.
An Amnesty report also claims that before his trial, Kean tried to have the judge removed because he had opposed the military coup that led to Bainimarama becoming prime minister in 2006, which Kean helped to stage as head of the Navy.
The allegations caused serious concern among World Rugby’s highest-ranking officials, particularly given his support of Beaumont’s campaign, and the governing body confirmed on Tuesday that Kean is no longer standing for Executive Committee election and will not serve on the council while the Fiji Rugby Union investigates the matter.
A World Rugby statement read: “World Rugby notes the Fiji Rugby Union’s decision to stand down Fiji Rugby Union Chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean from the World Rugby Council, and therefore withdrawing his candidature for the World Rugby Executive Committee, following new allegations published in the UK Sunday Times.
“World Rugby takes all allegations of behaviour that is not in keeping with the sport’s strong and inclusive values and Bye-Laws extremely seriously.
“While it is important to stress that any allegations must be validated, following dialogue with World Rugby, the Fiji Rugby Union recognises the seriousness of the allegations made and the need for them to be fully investigated, and that it is in the best interests of the sport that “Mr Kean steps down from the Council and his Executive Committee candidature be withdrawn.
“The Fiji Rugby Union have confirmed that their seat on the World Rugby Council will be filled by union CEO John O’Connor.
“There are now seven nominations for seven seats on the World Rugby Executive Committee, which will be confirmed at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the World Rugby Council, held by teleconference on 12 May.”
Beaumont is standing for a second term as World Rugby’s chairman in next week’s election, with his only rival being his current vice-chairman Agustin Pichot, the former Argentina international scrum-half.