8 Apr 2003

Fiji court martial adjourned until June

10:38 am on 8 April 2003

The court martial of another 25 Fiji soldiers charged with staging the November 2000 mutiny has been adjourned again, this time until late June.

A lawyer for eight of the soldiers, Sevuloni Valenitabua, applied for the adjournment saying he was still involved in the sentencing case of treason convicts, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu.

The army prosecution supported the adjournment application, saying the decision of the high court on the validity of the law removing the death penalty for treason also had a bearing on the soldiers, some of whom are also charged with treason.

The court martial was also told that a lawyer for 14 of the soldiers, Kelemedi Bulewa, was in Australia for medical treatment and would probably return in time for the June sitting.

Meanwhile, the soldiers in custody who had asked to spend Easter with their families were told they should make their request to the military commander and not to the court martial.

The first group of soldiers court martialled for the Suva mutiny were found guilty and sentenced late last year.