The former head of Fiji's fisheries ministry has appeared in the Suva magistrate's court charged with two counts of abuse of office for allowing illegal fishing without a licence.
The Fiji Times reports that Vuetasau Buatoka, who is now the chief executive of the ministry of transport and civil aviation, has pleaded not guilty.
The former director of fisheries, Maciu Ligabalavu, who has been charged with one count of abuse of office for a similar offence, has also pleaded not guilty.
State lawyers have asked for the case to be heard in the High Court because of the seriousness of the charges.
Both accused are alleged to have allowed a local company to continue fishing in 2003 when its licence expired at the end of 2002.
Buatoka and Ligabalavu have been released on bail of 3-thousand US dollars each.
Buatoka continues in his current role as chief executive of the ministry of transport and civil aviation, although the chairman of the Public Service Commission, Stuart Hugget, said he was aware of his court appearance yesterday.