4 Jan 2007

Fiji's Labour leader defends decision over judiciary

4:24 pm on 4 January 2007

Fiji's Labour leader is defending the military's decision to stand top judicial figures down, pending investigations into the 2000 coup.

The military has asked Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki and Chief Magistrate Naomi Lomaiviti to go on paid leave while it investigates allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the judiciary.

It's believed the military's looking at either Justice John Connors or Justice Anthony Gates to act as Chief Justice, while Magistrate Ajmal Khan was being considered as acting Chief Magistrate.

Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry believes the military hasn't breached the constitution because it gained consent from the two involved.

"If they hadn't agreed, if they had objected to going on leave and maintained their positions, then it might have become a constitutional issue. But seeing that they have agreed to proceed on leave it puts a different perspective on it altogether."

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has said the judiciary will continue to provide a service to the public during the investigations.