5 May 2003

Technicality could see the release of 56 soldiers convicted of mutiny in Fiji

10:29 am on 5 May 2003

A report from Fiji says 56 soldiers convicted and jailed for mutiny in Labasa during the coup may walk free on a technicality.

This is because the mutineers, who are serving sentences ranging from life to three years, are being held at Korovou jail in Suva without committal warrants being sent to the prison authorities.

A newspaper report says the military sent the warrants after the court Martial in March ot the Ministry of HOme Affairs, which then sent them to the Presidents office.

The President has the power to confirm the sentences, or reduce or increase them, but this has not been done.

The prisoner's lawyer, Kitione Veutaki, says he has filed a writ in the High court seeking an explanation for the detention of his clients from the commissioner of Prisons, the Army commander and the Minister for Home Affairs.

Mr Vuetaki claims his clients were unlawfully detained because no committal warrants were issued.