14 Apr 2005

Jailed Fiji minister freed after 11 days in prison

2:25 pm on 14 April 2005

Fiji's jailed former minister for lands, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and government senator, Ratu Josefa Dimuri, have been released from Labasa Prison to serve their sentences extramurally.

Their release today came just 11 days after they were jailed for eight months on Monday of last week on coup related offences.

Radio Legend reports that family members have confirmed the release of the two chiefs who left for Suva immediately afterwards.

The commissioner of prisons, Aisea Taoka, has referred all queries to the supervisor of Labasa Prison who was away in Taveuni and could not be reached.

The radio report says prison regulations allow a prison supervisor to release any person jailed for less than 12 months to serve the sentence extramurally by doing public work outside.

Their release mean that Ratu Naiqama and Senator Dimuri will be able to attend meetings of the House of Representatives and the Upper House respectively and will be in no danger of losing their seats.

Ratu Naiqama resigned his portfolio immediately after his jailing last week and was succeeded by another member of his pro-coup Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua and George Speight's brother, Samisoni Tikonisau.