8 Jun 2002

Fiji seeks replacement for retiring Chief Justice

4:18 am on 8 June 2002

Fiji is looking overseas for a new chief justice to replace the controversial Sir Timoci Tuivaga who retires next month.

Media reports say among candidates being considered are senior judges from New Zealand and Australia and the Chief Justice of Tonga, Justice Gordon Ward.

Justice Ward, who is currently a member of the Fiji Court of Appeal, was Fiji's chief magistrate before the 1987 coups.

The search for a new chief justice has gone overseas because of bitter divisions in Fiji's judiciary over the actions of Sir Timoci after the November 2000 coup.

One group of judges supported Sir Timoci's drafting of a military decree to abrogate the 1997 Constitution - an act later declared illegal by the Appeal Court which ruled that the constitution was still valid.

Another group of judges strongly objected to the chief justice's actions and continued to uphold the constitution in their rulings.