7 Jul 2005

Handwriting expert gives evidence in trial of Fiji aviation minister and three others

10:24 am on 7 July 2005

A handwriting and signature expert from New Zealand has given evidence in the coup-related trial of Fiji's civil aviation minister, Simione Kaitani, and three others.

Kaitani, Eroni Lewagai, Levani Tonitonivanua and Viliame Sausauwai are charged with taking an illegal oath to join George Speight's failed administration during the coup.

The Fiji Sun reports that the expert, David Boot, has told the Suva High Court that there are similarities in the signatures of three of the four accused who took the alleged oath.

Mr Boot said he made the comparisons based on size, style, base line and pressure in relation to other signatures of the accused taken from immigration documents and election papers provided to him in October last year.

Mr Boot said signatures on the oath papers signed by Kaitani, Lewaqai and Sausauwai showed strong similarities to signatures they had appended on other documents.

He said he could not form an opinion on the document signed by Tonitonivanua.

In reply to defence questions, Mr Boot said it was very unlikely but not impossible that the signatures on the documents were copied.