26 Mar 2009

Court deliberations in Fiji over possible immunity for solider charged with murder

5:38 pm on 26 March 2009

Fiji's High Court Judge, Daniel Gounder, will deliver his ruling next Monday on whether a solider charged with murder is immune under a Presdential promulgation.

Maika Vuniwawa's lawyer Haroon Ali Shah made a submission his client should not be charged with the murder of Nimilote Verebasaga because he is covered under the decree.

Mr Shah told the court that no matter how serious the case or even if soldiers had taken part in genocide, immunity was there to cover them because the military exist to maintain law and order.

But the proescuting lawyer Wilisoni Kurisaqila argued that Mr Vuniwawa is charged with murder and immunity only covers what happened with regards to members of parliament being ousted from office.

Fiji Village reports Mr Kurisaqila as saying the death of Mr Verebasaga arose from a land dispute and the accused was taken from his village to the military camp where he was assaulted resulting in his death.

Mr Kurisaqila also told the court that the immunity promulgation issued by Commander Frank Bainimarama in 2000 to soldiers that took part in the overthrow of the Labour Party coalition was later declared invalid.