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Regime Trying To Change Court Rules

Regime Trying To Change Court Rules For Constitution Case

Issue No: 164; 2 November 2000

The interim regime is trying to change the rules for hearing of the constitution case filed by the People's Coalition government.

According to today's Fiji Sun, the interim regime Minister for Justice and Attorney General, Alipate Qetaki stated that the regime is now looking at a panel of 3 judges to hear the case rather than one, as is standard practice in the High Court. Qetaki stated:

"It is Government's intention to seek the Court's approval for the matters to be decided by a panel of three High Court Judges given the significance of the issues raised to our future progress and development as a nation and the need to have an authoritative pronouncement on the important Constitutional issues".

Qetaki also criticised two High Court Judges, Justice Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi and Justice Nazhat Shameem for stating in a civil and a criminal case judgment respectively that until the court cases pending on the 1997 Constitution, they will take it that the Constitution remained in force. Speaking on Radio Fiji's news program last night, Qetaki stated that the regime "was concerned" about the statements by the judges.

Qetaki further stated that the constitutional judgments would have far reaching implications for "national issue, the welfare of the nation, national independence, security and stability of the nation, the honour and sovereignty of Fiji and the interest of the community as a whole".

The regime had earlier attempted to get the People's Coalition case filed in Lautoka High Court shifted to Suva to a preferred judge. This attempt is being fought by the Lautoka Court.

The Qetaki outburst is also seen as an attempt to pre-empt the judgment of Justice Anthony Gates in the Chandrika Prasad compensation case, a case in which one of the terrorised farmers from Muaniweni is seeking redress as well as asking for a declaration on the 1997 Constitution. Judge Gates is to deliver the judgment this week.

The attempt to change the High Court practice by the regime clearly indicates that the regime will go to all lengths to maintain its power and to write a new racist constitution irrespective of the opinions of the judiciary and the vast majority of Fiji's citizens.

End 2 November


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