10 Aug 2004

Fiji's Labour leader criticises PM for comments supporting the convicted Vice President

11:00 am on 10 August 2004

Fiji's Prime Minister is under fire for criticising the judiciary over the jail term handed to Vice President, Ratu Jope Seniloli.

Mahendra Chaudhry, who was ousted in the 2000 coup, says Laisenia Qarase is interfering with the legal process.

Seniloli was jailed for four years for aiding George Speight's rebel government, but the Prime Minister believes the outcome is too severe.

Laisenia Qarase claims Seniloli and four others involved had no evil intentions and believed they were doing something good for the country.

But Mr Chaudhry has objected to such statements:

"I think it's a disgrace that such a statement was made. Normally the judiciary is supposed to be independent when it exercises its function, it should not be criticised. I think he should have kept out of it and left matters to the judiciary and the legal system."

Mr Chaudhry says that while he is satisfied with the sentence, common sense dictates that Seniloli must resign.