6 Oct 2010

Former Fiji PM denies breaching emergency regulations

6:25 pm on 6 October 2010

former prime minister of Fiji, Mahendra Chaudhry, has pleaded not guilty to breaching public emergency regulations by holding a meeting without a permit.

Five others who appeared with him in Rakiraki Magistrates Court on Wednesday also pleaded not guilty to violating the Public Order Act, which prohibit meetings of three or more people.

Mr Chaudhry had been visting farmers in Rakiraki last week in his capacity as a union leader, Radio New Zealand International reports.

He is also the leader of the Labour Party and was the interim regime's finance minister until August 2008.

His son Rajendra Chaudry, a lawyer acting on his behalf, says his father is to appear in court again on 11 November.

If found guilty, he could face a maximum two-year jail sentence.

Amnesty International says the regulations Mr Chaudhry is charged under are being used to deny Fiji's people their right to express their views freely in public and has called for the charges to be dropped.