24 Sep 2005

Judge reprimands chief executive of Fiji PM's office

5:08 am on 24 September 2005

A Suva High Court judge has reprimanded the chief executive of the Fiji Prime Minister's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu, for issuing a statement on a case currently under way and warned him not to do it again.

Justice Nazhat Shameem summoned Mr Kotobalavu to appear in her court after the publication of his media release defending the prime minister's alleged involvement in the multi-million dollar agriculture ministry scam case, that she is hearing.

Radio Legend reports that Justice Shameem told Mr Kotobalavu that the judge is the only person who has the power to comment on a case before the court.

Mr Kotobalavu said he respects the court and apologised for any inconvenience caused.

But he denied commenting on the case except to defend the prime minister because he felt it was his duty to do so.

Justice Shameem told Mr Kotobalavu to understand the law of contempt of court and not to make any comments until the case is over.

She said the same applies to ministers, former ministers and public servants whose names have been mentioned in evidence given in the case.