back to news archives for 18-31 August, 2000
USP Journalism Programme
NEW MAGISTRATE TAKES OVER REBEL CASE

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By Matelita Ragogo
Editor of Wansolwara
© USP Journalism Programme

SUVA: A new magistrate with about three months' experience on the bench
in the Fiji Islands, Laisa Laveti, will now preside over the case
against coup leader George Speight and 12 other alleged plotters.
Chief magistrate Salesi Temo today disqualified himself from presiding
over the counts which the 13 men are jointly charged with.
He took this step as the last accused, Joji Bakoso, is a relative of
Temo. The chief magistrate had disqualified himself from a previous a
case in which Bakoso was accused of being in possession of arms earlier
this year.
The office of the Director of Prosecutions had lodged an application two
weeks ago seeking the disqualification of Temo. This was supported by an
affidavit by state prosecution officer Wilisoni Kurisaqila.
A decision on whether the men should be allowed bail has been deferred
and will now be decided upon by Ms Laveti.
However, Temo will preside over the treason charge proceedings because
Bakoso is not charged with treason along with the remaining accused.
"It would not be proper for me to preside in this case ... a fair-minded
and informed observer might reasonably apprehend or suspect that I might
prejudge the case because of Joji Bakoso,'' Temo said.
"The three counts of treason, conspiracy to commit treason and misprison
to treason will be dealt with according to law by this court. I
understand that [Mr Bakoso] is not an accused in this matter.''
Temo also ruled that Bakoso's case would not be severed or would he
appear before separate hearing to save the court's time and taxpayers'
money.
"The issues concerning the validity or otherwise of the Immunity Decree
18 of 2000 and the bail matter will be considered by [Ms Laveti],'' Temo
said.
The prosecution office now has one week to serve documents on the
defence counsel over the three treason charges against the rebels who
will now enter their fourth week on their island prison, Nukulau Island.
The accused rebels will reappear on August 25.
+++niuswire

Title -- 2909 FIJI: New magistrate takes over rebel case
Date -- 18 August 2000
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pasifik Nius
Source -- PN/Wansolwara, 18/8/00
Copyright -- PN/Wansolwara
Status -- Unabridged
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