back to news archives for 18-31 August, 2000
USP Journalism Programme
COALITION TO TAKE SPEIGHT AND CO TO COURT IF FREED

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* Pacific Media Watch Online: http://www.pmw.c2o.org

SUVA: Fiji's deposed elected People's Coalition government will take
rebel leader George Speight and his group to court if they walk away
free men over the treason charges, reports the Fiji Sun.
This was disclosed yesterday by ousted Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tupeni
Baba who said that his government would first have to await a court
ruling on the legality of the dismissal.
"We would challenge the legality of the amnesty if George Speight and
his group march out of court free men under the Muanikau Accord's
Immunity Decree," said Dr Baba.
The People's Coalition has hired the services of renowned civil rights
advocate Geoffrey Robertson, QC, dubbed Britain's "Super Silk" because
of his internationally reputed prowess in court.
Dr Baba added that if the court ruled in favour of the illegal overthrow
of his government, it would render all ensuing acts, which included the
transfer of power and promulgation of decrees also illegal.
And it could mean that those involved in the overthrow could be liable
for treason.
Dr Baba said that they first have to consider the regularity of the
Immunity Decree [and a precedent] set in Trinidad and Tobago in 1992
where a court overturned a similar decree.
"We would challenge the legality of the amnesty in court because that
was done under duress," he said.
* On Saturday, the Fiji Sun reported that Speight and 16 rebels charged
with treason and conspiracy to treason could walk free if the defence
counsel could prove in court that the rebels were "true to the Immunity
Decree".
The decree was at the centre of legal argument in the Suva Magistrates'
Court when Speight and his fellow accused appeared before Chief
Magistrate Salesi Temo.
Temo asked both the defence and prosecution counsel to prepare their
arguments about the decree because the case could not afford to "drag
on" as much of the taxpayers' money was spent in using Nukulau Island as
the accused's prison camp.
The chief magistrate will make a ruling on September 4.
+++niuswire

Title -- 2929 FIJI: Coalition threatens to take Speight to court
Date -- 27 August 2000
Byline -- Leone Cabenatabua
Origin -- Pasifik Nius
Source -- Fiji Sun, 27/8/00
Copyright -- FS
Status -- Unabridged
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