14 Oct 2005

Fiji prison releases 12 villagers jailed for coup-related offences

11:12 am on 14 October 2005

Twelve Fiji villagers jailed two weeks ago for coup-related offences, along with the government senator, Mohammed Apisai Tora, have been released to serve their sentences extra-murally.

The Fiji Times reports that Tora's application to be released with the Sabeto villagers, has been refused, and he's now applied to be released on a Compulsory Supervision Order.

Tora was jailed for eight months and the villagers for four months each after being convicted of illegal assembly, for seizing a military checkpoint and setting up a roadblock near Nadi International Airport during the coup.

The supervisor of prisons in Fiji's west, Leliki Tokoniono, said the villagers had been declared medically fit to perform community work in churches, schools and police stations in Nadi, and released.

Mr Tokoniono said Tora's health had prevented him from being released to serve his sentence extramurally, and his other option was to apply to be released under a Compulsory Supervision Order, which is granted by the minister for justice and attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale.

Tora's lawyer, Iqbal Khan, says he filed an application for the senator's release on Wednesday and he hopes to receive an answer next week.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the vice president, Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi, visited Tora in prison last week.