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Qarase Consults Private Lawyers

Issue No: 573 12 March 2001

In a move which has angered state lawyers, Laisenia Qarase engaged private lawyers to render their advise on the Fiji Court of Appeal decision.

State lawyers advised Qarase that the court has declared his regime illegal. But before this advice was formally delivered, Qarase decided to engage private lawyers. This was a day after the Court decision was delivered. All the lawyers consulted were ethnic Fijians. The lawyers were prevailed upon to advice the Great Council of Chiefs as well. But the Great Council of Chiefs refused to hear the lawyers, and instead opted to hear a presentation from Qarase and his Attorney General Alipate Qetaki.

Fiji TV has also revealed that a group of ethnic Fijian lawyers claim that a group of 12 indigenous Fijian lawyers met last week to discuss the court decision on the request of Qarase. Some lawyers listed as members of the group, however, have denied being approached by Qarase or of meeting to discuss the decision. The lawyers in the list consulted include two former AGs, Qoriniase Bale and Kelemedi Bulewa, Samuela Matawalu, Litia Qionibaravi, Asesela Sadole, Isireli Fa, Sakiusa Rabuka, Maika Qarikau, Rabo Matebalavu, Niko Nawaikula, Rakuita Valakalabure, and Kitione Vuataki.

Of the listed 12, Fiji TV claims that 7 have distanced themselves from a report circulated to the chiefs advising them to reject the court decision, and to grant immediate amnesty and pardon to the terrorists now charged with treason. The report was allegedly authored by the terrorists lawyers Rabo Matabalavu and Vuataki, terrorist Vakalalabure (who still has not been charged), and NLTB's lawyers Qarikau and Nawaikula. They also threatened that it their advise was not accepted, there would be continuing unrest in Fiji that plagued the country after 19 may, including mutinies.

The chiefs meet again tomorrow to discuss the court decision.

END 12 March 2001

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