3 Oct 2006

Suva court lifts restrictions on travel by some witnesses in agriculture scam trial

9:16 am on 3 October 2006

The Suva High Court has given Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, permission to travel overseas later this week.

Justice Nazhat Shameem had earlier ordered Mr Qarase, several current and former government ministers and senior public servants numbering over 30 not to leave Fiji during the trial involving the 13-million US dollar agriculture ministry scam.

All have been subpoenaed to give evidence in the trial in which the former head of the agriculture ministry, Peniasi Kunatuba, has been charged with two counts of abuse of office.

The chief executive of the Prime Minister's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu, has told Radio Fiji that Mr Qarase has been allowed to travel to Brisbane on Friday to attend Fiji Day celebrations and meetings of the Australia Fiji Business Council.

Mr Kotobalavu has also been given permission to accompany Mr Qarase.

Justice Nazhat Shameem has also granted permission to the minister for women, George Shiu Raj, to travel in the middle of this month for a separate official trip.