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Treason lawyers want direction from President

PEOPLE'S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI

State treason lawyers want direction from President

Issue No: 583 14 March 2001

In a surprise twist to the treason case against terrorist George Speight and his group, state lawyers today asked for an adjournment because they had not received any word from the President. The case was called before magistrate Salesi Temo today on Nukulau Island prison.

Radio Fiji reported today of state lawyers saying that since Ratu Josefa Iloilo and Ratu Jope Seniloli have been confirmed as President and Vice-President, respectively, they are waiting for a word from them before they could proceed further. The case was adjourned for later in the month.

The state lawyers' view that they have to get advice from the President has shocked the People's Coalition Government. It is clear that by claiming to wait for advice from the President, the state law office is politicising the case.

What type of advice the state lawyers are waiting for is not clear. But it is certain that the terrorists hoped that Ratu Jope, whom they had made the President after taking over the Parliament Complex, would press for their release and pardon.

If the media report is true, then it confirms the suspicions of many that not only is the state law office not capable of handling the case, but also that it is actively trying to get the terrorists released.

While the GCC decision to stay within the confines of the 1997 Constitution has been welcomed by various interest groups in Fiji, the delay in getting the terrorists tried raises serious questions on the integrity of law and order in the country.

Last week, the terrorists' lawyers had advised Laisenia Qarase and the GCC to grant the terrorists immediate immunity and pardon.

Meanwhile, it is believed that some prominent politicians who are with Qarase, as well as some prominent businessmen, including some ethnic Indian businessmen, are lobbying strongly for the release of the terrorists.

END 14 March 2001

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