17 Aug 2005

Fiji state prosecutor to appeal against minister's acquittal

3:35 pm on 17 August 2005

Public prosecutors in Fiji are preparing to appeal against a court's decision to clear the transport minister of coup-related charges.

Justice Anthony Gates ruled this week that Simione Kaitani, and three others were not guilty of taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence during the coup.

Fiji's police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, says prosecutors were unable to give a criminal standard of proof to allegations against Mr Kaitani.

Mr Hughes is not linking the failure of the prosecution case to the recent departure of the Australian criminal lawyer Peter Ridgway as deputy director of public prosecutions.

"Peter Ridgway was an extraordinarily capable prosecutor, of the highest calibre. But that said, the office of DPP here in Fiji has many competent prosecutors, and my confidence in their office and their capability remains."

Commissioner Hughes says it's not helpful to point fingers at the police who gathered evidence for the prosecution.

But he says he's sure there are lessons to be learnt and police and prosecutors will be looking at that.