10 Mar 2004

Fiji mutiny court martial delayed by arrest of defence lawyer

4:17 pm on 10 March 2004

The court martial of a second group of 23 Fiji soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny could not get under way today because one of the defence lawyers was under arrest at the Suva Magistrate's Court.

Radio Fiji says defence counsel Vodo Tuberi had also appeared in court under arrest two weeks ago for superannuation deducted from employees wages which he had failed to pay into the Fiji National Provident Fund.

The other defence lawyer, Sevuloni Valenitabua, did turn up for the court martial but after discussions with the military prosecutors, the trial was adjourned to tomorrow afternoon.

Tuberi has been remanded to pay 3 thousand 900 US dollars he owes the Provident Fund by four pm local time this afternoon.

Court officials say if Tuberi does not pay up by the deadline, then a committal warrant will be issued jailing the lawyer for up to nine months.