21 Jan 2005

State lawyers in Fiji to defend coup convict release

8:37 am on 21 January 2005

State lawyers in Fiji have filed papers in the High Court defending the right of the attorney general and minister for justice, Qoriniasi Bale, to release the former vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli from jail.

Mr Bale had released Seniloli under a Compulsory Supervision Order after just three months of his four-year jail term for taking an illegal oath to usurp the presidency during the Speight coup.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum filed a challenge in the High Court seeking to reverse the decision.

The CCF argued that if the release were allowed to stand, it would open the way for a flood of applications from coup convicts wanting to be released in a similar manner.

Fiji TV reports that state lawyers have filed papers in response, defending Mr Bale's right to release prisoners under Compulsory Supervision Orders.

The High Court has yet to set a date for the hearing of the case.

Meanwhile, another person convicted with Seniloli, Ratu Viliame Volavola, has filed an application to be released under a Compulsory Supervision Order.

In another development, fellow convict Viliame Savu who was released to serve his sentence extramurally by the commissioner of prisons on medical grounds, has denied being in ill health.