13 Sep 2005

Fiji minister returns to cabinet after acquittal in fraud case

2:45 pm on 13 September 2005

The former Fiji government minister acquitted of charges of defrauding the state and obtaining money by false pretences in back in the cabinet.

George Shiu Raj was sworn in this morning as the minister for multi-ethnic affairs, the portfolio he was forced to resign when charges were laid against him late last year.

Radio Fiji reports that the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, was present at the swearing in and welcomed Mr Shiu Raj back into cabinet.

Fiji's auditor general, Eroni Vatuleka, has criticised the High Court acquittal saying it has serious implications for upcoming cases of corruption in the government.

The director of public prosecutions says he will appeal against the acquittal in the Fiji Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, Mr Shiu Raj said in a newspaper interview published today that the posts of prime minister and president should remain with indigenous Fijians.

He has urged Indian leaders to adopt the right attitude and let indigenous Fijians rule the country, adding that otherwise there would be trouble.