31 Aug 2005

Lawyer for Fiji army deserter ordered to explain court absence

9:14 am on 31 August 2005

The Suva High Court has ordered the lawyer for the controversial Fiji army officer, Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini, to produce a medical certificate if he wants to pursue his client's constitutional redress case.

Radio Legend reports that Justice Gerard Winter has instructed Samuela Matawalu to produce a detailed medical report to explain why he has not been attending court proceedings.

Court officials are quoted as saying Mr Matawalu's wife told the court her husband was unable to attend court as he was sick and currently in India.

Mr Matawalu has been given until 9th September to produce the medical report before the case is called again on the 12th.

Lt Col Tarakinikini is taking legal action against the President Iloilo, the attorney general and the military commander after his attempt to resign from the military was rejected.

The military has declared Tarakinikini a deserter for refusing to return from overseas to answer questions about the coup and November 2000 mutiny.

As a deserter he is subject to immediate arrest by military police as soon as he returns to Fiji.