11 Nov 2004

Fiji's vice president's appeal against prison term for coup related crimes has been rejected

8:19 pm on 11 November 2004

The Fiji Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal by jailed vice president Seniloli against his 4-year prison sentence for being sworn in as the usurper president during the May 2000 coup.

The court also rejected the appeal of the deputy Speaker of parliament Vakalalabure against his six-year sentence for being sworn in as the attorney general in George Speight's failed administration, as well three others who were sworn in as purported ministers.

Radio Legend reports that in handing down the judgement, the president of the Appeal Court, Justice Gordon Ward, said the three judges had considered the reasons given by the sentencing judge, Justice Nazhat Shameem.

Justice Shameem had pointed out that none of the defendants were part of the coup but they had all lent their weight to it by way of their traditional and social status.

The appeal judges said they has considered Justice Shameem's explanations of the different levels of sentences passed on the five and found no reason to interfere with her decisions.

The Appeal Court dismissed their appeals against their convictions and the sentences imposed.

Justice Ward also criticised the lawyers who argued the appeal, saying that after the hearing was over, the judges asked them to give further written submissions on a single aspect of the law which the judges considered.

Justice Ward said the lawyers made other detailed submissions on two separate occasions which were not invited and should not have been submitted.

He said these were not considered by the Appeal Court.

Vice president Seniloli and the other four appellants are back in Suva prison.