18 Aug 2005

Fiji Court of Appeal refuses bail for soldiers whose court martial convictions quashed

7:25 pm on 18 August 2005

The Fiji Court of Appeal has denied bail to soldiers whose convictions and sentences it quashed earlier this week.

The Appeal Court had ruled that they should be retried after ruling that their court martial was unlawful because only their commander-in-chief, the president, had the authority to appoint members of the court martial panel, NOT the commander.

The Legal Aid Commission applied for bail on behalf of one of the soldiers.

But the president of the Appeal Court, Justice Gordon Ward, has ruled that the appellate court does not have the power to hear the bail application.

Radio Legend quotes Justice Ward as saying that only a court martial panel can grant bail.

The military has now taken all the soldiers whose sentences were quashed from Suva Prison and put them under military custody.

A military spokesman says President Iloilo will appoint a new court martial panel next month to retry the soldiers who were convicted for taking part in the coup related November 2000 mutiny.

The mutiny, which was aimed at assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and freeing George Speight, claimed eight lives and resulted in more than 30 injuries including those of civilians hit by bullets flying from the firefight at the military camp.