21 Jun 2005

Outrage at Fiji Government's treatment of former deputy public prosecutor

7:11 pm on 21 June 2005

There is outrage in Fiji at the government's treatment of the former deputy director of public prosecutions, Peter Ridgway.

Mr Ridgway, an Australian national who had been spearheading coup prosecutions for four years, was issued an order to leave Fiji within 24 hours, or face arrest, imprisonment in Suva Prison and forcible deportation.

The Fiji Law Society president, Graham Leung, has told Radio Fiji that Mr Ridgway has given four years of his life to help get the country back on track but the way he has been treated is as if he had committed some terrible crime.

Mr Leung says Mr Ridgway had been very successful in the criminal prosecution of those involved in the Speight coup and in doing such a good job, he has obviously upset some people.

Mr Leung says everyone in Fiji knows this may be is the reason for the treatment he has been given.

Mr Ridgway, whose work in Fiji was funded by the Australian government, will leave the country tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, has been quoted as saying Fiji reserves the right to decide which foreigners will work in Fiji irrespective of who is footing the bill.

The developments come as the government pushes ahead with its Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Bill will set up a Commission to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.