13 Aug 2005

Judge to have final say in coup trial of Fiji transport minister

8:13 am on 13 August 2005

The judge presiding over the coup trial of Fiji's transport minister, Simione Kaitani, and three others will have the final say on whether they are guilty or not.

The five assessors in the case yesterday found all four not guilty.

Mr Kaitani, Lepani Tonitonivanua, Eroni Lewaqai and Viliame Sausauwai were charged with taking illegal oaths to join George Speight's failed administration as ministers during the coup.

Under Fiji's law, a judge can overturn the opinion of the assessors and reach the opposite verdict, although in practice, this is unusual.

Justice Anthony Gates told the Suva High Court yesterday he would deliver his ruling on Monday.