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2 months for $80,000 theft

Issue No: 426 30 January 2001

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$80,000 theft; 6 yrs jail; free in 2 months: law and order under Qarase

A navy clerk jailed for 6 years for stealing over $80,000 is free after 2 months on compulsory supervision order.

The Fiji Times highlighted the case yesterday saying the 34 year old William Biu was released on 30 December last year on an order from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Home Affairs Ministry later denied this in a statement to Radio Fiji. It is now revealed that the order was given by the Qarase regime's Attorney General and Minister for Justice Alipate Qetaki. Today's Fiji Times states that Qetaki released the prisoner under power vested in the Minister for Justice exercised under the Prisons Act.

Qetaki released 40 prisoners between July and December last year, an average of one a week. He stated, according to the Fiji Times, that he had found that most inmates had no source of income as they were unemployed. It was, he reasoned, more beneficial for them to be released on compulsory supervision orders.

The release of Biu, who stole thousands of dollars, raises serious questions on the status of law and order in the country. Speaking under condition of anonymity, one prominent businessman stated: "How can we trust the justice system in the country when thugs get released within a few months from prison. Is it a deliberate attempt to create confidence in criminals to willy nilly steal others properties knowing that they will be out within a few weeks? Investors have already been badly shaken by the terrorists last year. Now we learn of the release of this criminal. How many more have been released?"


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