19 Jul 2007

Court throws out challenge of new Fiji anti-corruption body

7:17 pm on 19 July 2007

The Lautoka High Court has dismissed an application to have the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption declared illegal.

The application was filed on behalf of Lautoka businessman, Alvin Raj, whom the commission is prosecuting for an immigration scam in which he is alleged to have made false declaration to obtain passports for four Indian nationals.

The Daily Post reports that Mr Raj is also charged with one count of official fraud and with being an accessory to the murder of a Nadi jeweller late last year.

Mr Raj's lawyer, Haroon Ali Shah, applied to the High Court for a declaration that the Commission Against Corruption did not have the powers to arrest and prosecute Raj and that it was taking over the functions of the director of public prosecutions.

Mr Shah also sought damages for wrongful arrest and confinement, and unreasonable prosecution.

Mr Justice John Connors rejected the applications saying it would be inappropriate for a civil court to entertain the declarations sought by Mr Raj.

Justice Connors said these were matters that should be considered by the criminal court where Mr Raj is to appear in relation to the charges against him.

Justice Connors struck out the claim for damages and ordered Mr Raj to pay the court costs of the Commission Against Corruption and the attorney general.