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Landmark Constitutional case underway

Landmark Constitutional case

Mon, 19 Feb 2001 09:39:26 +1200

PEOPLE'S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI Issue No: 492 19 February 2001

visit our website: http://www.pcgov.org.fj

Landmark constitutional case begins today

The Qarase regime's appeal against the decision of the High Court that the 1997 Constitution still exists as the supreme law of Fiji, begins today.

The High Court last November also made the declaratory order that the President should reconvene the elected Parliament. The full text of the decision is available at: http://www.pcgov.org.fj/docs_o/chandrikaprasad_ruling_gates.htm. The regime subsequently applied for a stay order of the decision. The application was declined. It then appealed the stay order decision. This was again thrown out by the Fiji Court of Appeal. The full text of the Appeal decision is at: http://www.pcgov.org.fj/docs_o/appeal_stay_casey.htm ).

The regime's intention was to delay the court process so that no hearing could be had during the next three years. The regime's attorney-general has been on record as saying that the case will not be completed within 3 years.

This intention, however, has been seriously frustrated by a section of the judiciary which has remained independent and courageous enough to remain above intimidation.

The regime's appeal rests on the ground that the regime is in effective control of Fiji and as such it continues to be the legitimate authority. To this effect it has produced 13 affidavits from civil servants and regime functionaries, all saying that the regime is functioning effectively. To argue its case, it has engaged Nicholas Blake of the Matrix Chambers of the UK, a New Zealand QC Anthony Molloy, and Michael Scott of NZ. The regime is also relying on the resources and personnel of the State Law Office.

Chandrika Prasad, on the other hand, is assisted by prominent human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, UK lawyer Sadakat Kadri, and Australian National University's Professor of Law George Williams. Local lawyers for Prasad are Anu Patel and Neel Shivam.

The case is expected to last 5 days.

ENDS

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