27 Apr 2005

Fiji magistrate accused of running kangaroo court

8:12 am on 27 April 2005

A senior state lawyer in Fiji has called on a magistrate not to operate a kangaroo court.

The Daily Post reports it happened when magistrate, Aminiasi Katonivualiku, closed the Lautoka court for the charge of criminal assault brought against the police commander western, Eroni Antonio, and Inspector Sur Sen.

The two senior police officers were charged with assaulting a junior policeman, Jone Baravi, during a Christmas party at the Lautoka police station last year.

When Antonio and Sen pleaded not guilty, Magistrate Katonivualiku said it was his duty to promote reconciliation.

The court was briefly adjourned and later resumed in the absence of the senior state prosecutor, Kevueli Tunidau, who was prosecuting another case in the High Court.

Mr Katonivualiku then announced that the complainant had reconciled with the two senior officers and dismissed the charges of criminal assault.

The Post quotes Mr Tunidau as saying the DPP's Office is not happy with the decision.

Mr Tunidau says they will be filing an appeal in the High Court on the grounds of the outrageous, improper and irregular conduct of the magistrate and his breach of legal ethics.