Another terrorist discharged
Another terrorist discharged by Magistrate
Fri, 2 Feb 2001 14:12:56 +1200
PEOPLE'S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI Issue No: 438 2 February 2001
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Another terrorist-cum-mutineer discharged
The Chief Magistrate Salesi Temo has discharged terrorist-cum-mutineer Kanito Matanigasau yesterday because the prosecution did not show up in the court.
The discharge was under the section of the Criminal Penal Code (s198) which does not allow the person to be recharged for the same offence.
Defending its non-appearance in the court, the DPP's office stated that it was confused over dates for the case.
The discharge has raised alarms throughout Fiji. In a hard-hitting editorial, the Fiji Sun called the DPP's office the "sleepy arm of the law".
Earlier serious doubts were raised at the competence of the DPP's office in handling the serious criminal cases relating to the terrorist uprising in Fiji. But yesterday's case reveals that there is something which is seriously wrong in the DPP's office. One activist stated: "if the prosecutors get confused over simple matters like court dates, how can they be trusted for defending the interests of the state?"
Concern over Temo's conduct has also raised serious questions. It has earlier been reported that Temo had failed to reveal his relationship with a terrorist charged and brought before him, that he habitually shook hands with Speight, and that he has been seen in a Suva eatery with Speight supporters. The prosecution has failed to get Temo disqualified on grounds of bias.
Matanigasau was charged for assisting the soldiers who carried out the failed mutiny and an attempted coup on 2 November. He was a civil servant working in the Agriculture Ministry. The PSC had last week stated that it has suspended Matanigasau pending the court case for his involvement in the terrorist uprising and that it "will have to await the Court's determination before deciding on the next course of action to adopt."
Meanwhile the DPP's office has stated that it will get Matanigasau recharged.