22 May 2003

Charged Fiji minister gets passport for South Africa trip

6:17 am on 22 May 2003

A Fiji cabinet minister charged with serious coup-related offences has had his passport returned temporarily.

The minister for sport, Isireli Leweniqila, was ordered to surrender his passport to the Suva magistrate's court earlier this month.

It happened when he and others including the vice-president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, were charged with taking an unlawful oath to commit a capital offence and another unlawful oath to engage in a seditious enterprise.

But Leweniqila's lawyer asked the court that the passport be returned to enable the minister to travel to South Africa on official business this weekend.

The court has returned the passport after no objections were raised by state prosecutors but ordered him to surrender it again immediately after his return from South Africa.