13 Sep 2005

Fiji opposition mp calls for expat public prosecutor

6:30 am on 13 September 2005

Fiji's former opposition leader has called for an expatriate director of public prosecutions to lead the state prosecution office.

Mick Beddoes' call follows the acquittal of a former cabinet minister, George Shiu Raj, on charges of defrauding the state and obtaining money by false pretences.

He will be sworn back into cabinet today as the minister for multi-ethnic affairs.

Earlier, the High Court had found the minister for transport, Simione Kaitani, not guilty of taking an illegal oath to join Gorge Speight's failed administration during the coup.

Mr Kaitani had retained his cabinet portfolio throughout his trial and attended court proceedings from his office.

The Fiji Sun quotes Mr Beddoes as saying that for matters relating to the coup, foreign judges and prosecutors should have been used to avoid any post-judgment fallout.

Mr Beddoes says although the former deputy director of public prosecutions, Peter Ridgeway, had in-depth knowledge of how to deal with coup cases, there is a slim chance that the government would re-employ him.

Mr Beddoes says from the unceremonious way Mr Ridgeway was dismissed (in June), it was clear they did not want him back prosecuting ministers in the lead up to the 2006 general election.