16 Apr 2005

Fiji's director of public prosecutions contests release of jailed government MPs

6:11 am on 16 April 2005

Fiji's director of public prosecutions, Josaia Naigulevu, is challenging the early release of two government MPs jailed for coup related offences.

The former minister for lands, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and government senator, Ratu Josefa Dimuri, were released on Thursday, just 11 days after they were jailed for eight-months for their role in the Labasa army mutiny at the height of the coup.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has defended the releases saying they're within the law, because they met the criteria laid down in the Prisons Act, and he says he looks forward to seeing the two in parliament.

But Fiji TV reports that the DPP, Josaia Naigulevu, has written to the commissioner of prisons, Aisea Taoka, seeking answers to why the two convicts were released.

Mr Naigulevu says huge resources were deployed over several years to prosecute the two men but their early release means it was an exercise in futility.

Mr Naigulevu says he's concerned that the integrity of the criminal justice system has been compromised.

The DPP will seek legal redress on the issue.