28 Jan 2005

Fiji Cabinet Minister charged with a serious coup related offence

4:25 pm on 28 January 2005

Fiji's transport minister and former information minister, Simione Kaitani, appeared in the Suva High Court today charged with a serious coup related offence.

Radio Legend says Kaitani and five others have been charged with taking an illegal oath to become purported ministers in Speight's failed administration during the coup, the same offence for which the former vice president Seniloli was jailed.

The radio says no plea was taken when Kaitani's lawyer, Iqbal Khan, told Justice Anthony Gates that four of the five other accused did not have legal representation.

Justice Gates has set May the 26th as the date on which the trial proper will begin but all the accused will have to appear in court on February 25th where a date for the pre-trial conference will be set.

He also granted bail to Kaitani and four others except for Viliame Sausauwai who is currently serving a sentence in prison.

Justice Gates granted permission to Kaitani to travel abroad on official business on condition that he surrender his passport to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on his return.