25 May 2005

Fiji defence lawyer says a Reconciliation Act would help some of his clients

11:29 am on 25 May 2005

A report from Fiji says the jailed former deputy speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, and others sent to prison with him for coup related offences are ideal candidates for pardon under the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Radio Legend says this is the view of their defence lawyer, Abhay Singh.

Mr Singh says the actions of his clients during the May 2000 coup could be classed as politically motivated.

He says this was their main line of defence during the High Court trial last year as it was for the jailed former vice president, Seniloli, who was released under a Compulsory Supervision Order.

Mr Singh says his clients Vakalalabure, Peceli Rinakama and Ratu Viliame Volavola would have a very good case for amnesty if the Reconciliation and Unity Bill is approved. .

All are serving jail terms for taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence by being sworn in as purported ministers in George Speight's failed administration during the coup.

The government Bill will set up a commission with powers to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and suspend court proceedings against those facing charges