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NZ Police Assistance In Speight Trial

Foreign Minister Phil Goff has announced that New Zealand police will assist Fiji with the treason case against George Speight and his associates.

A request to the New Zealand Police Commissioner was made by Fiji Police Commissioner Savua for a review of the preparation of evidence from the treason case gathered by Fiji police. The request has been endorsed by the Prime Minister of Fiji's interim administration.

"In the interests of justice and helping ensure the case against Speight and others charged with treason is properly prosecuted, New Zealand is willing to respond positively to Commissioner Savua's request.

"New Zealand, together with Australian police will review the evidence, identify any flaws and provide advice to the Director of Public Prosecutions on remedial action which might be taken to rectify those problems," said Mr Goff.

Two senior detectives from the New Zealand police will be participating with two members from the Australian Federal police. The team is expected to be in Fiji for some weeks. The trial of Speight and his associates isn't expected to come to court until the middle of the year.

"There is a great deal of work involved in the preparation of the case. There are more than a hundred witnesses and a huge amount of evidence to be prepared and presented. The limited resources and expertise of the Fiji police mean that this task may not have been carried out to the required standard," the Minister said.

Mr Goff said the assistance to the Fiji police would come on top of the help already provided by New Zealand to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the Speight case. Christchurch Queen's Counsel Gerard McCoy, has been advising the Public Prosecutor on aspects of law in relation to the treason trial.

"New Zealand has a strong interest in seeing justice done and those responsible for violently overthrowing Fiji's democratic government brought to account," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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