12 Nov 2004

Lawyers for Fiji vice president to take fight to Supreme Court

8:12 am on 12 November 2004

Lawyers for the jailed Fiji vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli say they will take the legal battle to free him to the Supreme Court.

This follows the unanimous Appeal Court decision to dismiss Seniloli's appeal against his High Court conviction and 4-year jail sentence for being sworn in as the usurper president during the coup.

The Appeal Court judges said they had carefully considered the reasons given by Justice Nazhat Shameen in handing down the High Court sentence and saw no reason to change it.

But Radio Legend quotes one of Seniloli's lawyers, Mehboob Raza, as saying they won't let the matter rest and will lodge a further appeal with the Supreme Court.

Mr Raza says the grounds on which the initial appeal was lodged are strong.

The dismissal of the appeal yesterday also applies to the jailed deputy Speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalabure, who is serving a six-year sentence and three others who are in prison for shorter terms.

Although in Suva prison, Seniloli and Vakalalabure continue to receive their salaries and benefits of their offices although they are unable to perform their functions.

Vakalalabure, whose licence to practice law has been cancelled for life, remains chairman of parliament's sector committee on justice, law and order which has oversight on all legislation affecting these issues.