7 Feb 2005

Fiji military defends President over Tarakinikini row

1:23 pm on 7 February 2005

Fiji's military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has defended the commander-in-chief, President Iloilo, for signing documents ordering the return of controversial army officer, Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini.

Commodore Bainimarama has told the Sunday Times that the president's order was in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision.

The statement came after Lt Col Tarakinikini's lawyer, Samuela Matawalu, said the president may have to appear in court because his client would challenge the decision.

Commodore Bainimarama says it's anyone's right to take anyone to court, even the president.

But, he says, the fact remains that Tarakinikini lost his case in court and he "has to come back and face the music."

On criticism from the Prime Minister's Office that he did not follow proper government procedures, Commodore Bainimarama says the matter is between the army and Lt Col Tarakinikini and has nothing to do with the minister for home affairs or any other government minister.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Public Service Commission, Anare Jale, has defended Commodore Bainimarama.

Mr Jale says the president is the military's commander-in-chief and it is only right the Commodore Bainimarama goes directly to the president when he wants to.