15 Jun 2011

NZ Foreign Minister questions whether Mara would receive fair trial in Fiji

3:53 pm on 15 June 2011

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully says there would be some obstacles to overcome if Fiji tries to get former Fiji military officer Ratu Tevita Mara extradited from New Zealand.

Colonel Mara fled to Tonga last month to escape a sedition charge.

He's currently visiting Australia on a Tongan passport and six month visa, and plans to visit New Zealand later this month.

Fiji's Attorney-General has filed extradition papers with the Australian Attorney General and says he plans to seek the extradition of Colonel Mara from every country he visits.

Mr McCully says New Zealand would follow due process in considering any extradition.

"In dealing with extradition requests, countries always have some regard for the prospect of a fair trial in the country to which the person would be sent, and a look at their record for human rights abuses as well, and I think that would raise some questions in relation to Fiji."

Meanwhile, Ratu Tevita says he's had legal advice not to worry about attempts to extradite him.

It's coming from an illegal regime by an illegal Attorney-General so I don't think we should be paying much attention to that. I've been given my visa and I am within the bounds of my visa.

Colonel Mara says he'll check on the visa he's been promised for a two day visit to New Zealand.

A spokesman for the Australian Attorney-General's office says it doesn't comment on extradition requests.