6 Aug 2010

Former Fiji Prime Minister wants new judge on his court case

7:09 pm on 6 August 2010

The lawyer and son of a former Fiji Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, charged with money laundering and tax evasion, has asked for a different judge to preside over his father's case.

Last month Mahendra Chaudhry entered a not guilty plea in the Suva High Court, making an application for bail variation on the basis he needed to travel overseas for medical treatment.

Justice Daniel Goundar was set to rule on the bail application today, but the Director of Public Prosecutions, Aca Rayawa, told the judge Rajendra Chaudhry had filed an application for the case to be heard by a judge who wasn't a resident of Fiji.

Mr Rayawa said he would need a week to respond to the application and the case was adjourned to August the 20th.

Mr Chaudhry, Fiji's first Indo-Fijian leader, was deposed as prime minister in a nationalist coup in 2000 after being held hostage for 56 days.

He was arrested by Fiji police in July and charged with 12 offences relating to tax evasion and money laundering, which date back to just after the coup.

It's alleged he held up to 360,000 US dollars in a Commonwealth Bank of Australia account and 45,000 was given to his daughter in Australia without procedures being followed.