25 Jun 2007

Chief linked to Fiji mutiny released on bail, retrial ordered

5:45 pm on 25 June 2007

The Fiji Court of Appeal has released on bail a high chief who was serving a life sentence for inciting the November 2000 army mutiny.

The Appeal Court has also quashed Ratu Inoke Takiveikata's earlier conviction in the High Court and ordered his retrial.

Takiveikata had appealed against his conviction and sentence claiming that the trial judge, Justice Anthony Gates, had prejudged the outcome of the case and was biased in his decision.

A businessman, Donald Brody, and his wife gave evidence in the appeal hearing that Justice Gates had allegedly said prior to the trial that he was going to put Takiveikata away.

The ruling was delivered on behalf of the panel of Appeal Court by its president, Justice Gordon Ward who indicated there were doubts about Justice Gates impartiality in the trial.

Justice Ward said the Appeal Court judges have ordered that another trial be held.

Takiveikata is facing four counts of inciting mutiny and one count of inciting soldiers in an act of mutiny.

The firefight during the mutiny on November 2nd 2000 cost eight lives and resulted in more than 30 injuries including some civilians outside he military camp.

It was aimed at assassinating the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, and freeing the 2000 coup front man, George Speight.