21 May 2003

Fiji high court orders retrial of acquitted soldier

10:51 am on 21 May 2003

A Fiji high court judge has ordered the retrial of a reserve soldier acquitted by the magistrate's court on various charges related to the November 2000 mutiny which claimed eight lives.

Justice Nazhat Shameem has ordered the case of Kanito Matanigasau back to the magistrate's court for a continuation of the trial.

Last year, a magistrate acquitted Matanigasau on various charges including aiding soldiers in the act of mutiny, going armed in public, and being in possession of arms and ammunition without a licence.

This was despite evidence from seven military and police officers who testified that Matanigasau was armed and present in the military barracks on November the 2nd 2000 when he was seen aiding in the mutiny.

The state appealed against the acquittal on the grounds that the magistrate had erred in law and fact by failing to admit the carbon copy of the caution interview statement.

The state also argued that the magistrate further erred by refusing to grant an adjournment to enable a senior police officer who was abroad to return and give evidence.

Justice Shameem set aside the acquittal and ordered that the trial continue because the prosecution's evidence was admissible.