13 Feb 2006

Fiji military files contempt of court against Finance Minister

3:09 pm on 13 February 2006

Fiji's military has filed contempt of court proceedings against the finance minister, Ratu Jone Kubuabola.

Radio Fiji reports that the legal proceedings relate to the minister's failure to comply with a High Court order to reimburse the military commander sums of money deducted from his pay in the form of a surcharge.

In October last year Justice Jiten Singh had quashed the surcharge imposed on Commodore Bainimarama and ordered the deductions to be refunded

But the finance ministry has continued deducting Commodore Bainimarama's salary at the rate of 230-US dollars a fortnight to cover the surcharge of 29-thousand-400 US dollars for overspending the military's 2003 budget.

The defiance of the High Court has continued despite advice from the solicitor general's office.

The military's director of legal services, Major Kitione Tuinausara, has confirmed he has filed legal papers instituting contempt of court proceedings.

Major Tuinausara says the military has taken the matter back to court because the deductions have not been reimbursed despite assurances from the chief executive of the finance ministry, Paula Tuinaceva.

Major Tuinausara says the ministry's blatant disregard of the court order is a bad reflection on the government.