9 Aug 2004

Fiji's Legal Aid Commission seeks end to court martials

2:00 pm on 9 August 2004

Fiji's Legal Aid Commission wants the High Court to stop the court martial of 61 soldiers for their involvement in the seizure of parliament in the May 2000 coup.

Radio Fiji reports that the commission claims the court martial is being convened illegally and has applied to the High Court for an injunction to stop it.

The commission director, Makareta Waqavonovono, says the court martial is not independent and impartial because it is convened under the authority of the military commander.

She says this would be in breach of the soldiers' constitutional right to a fair trial under an independent tribunal.

Ms Waqavonovono say the British Army Act was amended in 1997 to accommodate changes to the setting up of courts martial and is binding on the Fiji Military Law.

She is also asking the High Court to review the jail sentences of more than 40 soldiers earlier court martialled and found guilty of mutiny