29 Apr 2004

Nauru to eject refugee case lawyers

10:27 am on 29 April 2004

The Nauru government says it's ordered all Australian lawyers dealing with a refugee case home.

The lawyers were to take part in a court hearing yesterday to determine the legality of keeping asylum seekers in Australian-run detention centres in Nauru.

A spokeswoman for the government told the Australian Associated Press agency that the justice minister, Russell Kun, told her he had ordered the lawyers to leave.

The minister said he made the decision after finding it would be unfair for his uncle, Reuben Kun, to act as a para-legal pleader for the refugees.

The refugees' lawyers had earlier been prevented from flying to Nauru.

The move has now been criticised by the Nauru chief justice and Reuben Kun who had been asked to act for the refugees.

This left the Nauru government side with Australian lawyers, but the justice minister has now decided that it would be unfair to have only one side represented by Australian lawyers.