23 Jul 2002

Defence lawyer withdraws from Fiji treason case after being named in coup related documents

8:37 am on 23 July 2002

A defence lawyer in the trial of two accomplices in the May 2000 Fiji coup has withdrawn from the case after his name allegedly appeared in coup related documents.

Kitione Vuetaki withdrew from representing Timoci Silatolu when his treason trial and that of Josefa Nata opened in the Suva High Court yesterday.

Radio FM-96 quotes Mr Vuetaki as saying he withdrew because his name allegedly appeared as the attorney general in coup front man George Speight's failed Taukei Civilian Administration.

His name was in documents seized by police from Nata's home.

Mr Vuetaki's name also appeared in the illegal Deed of Sovreignty document issued by the former general manager of the Native Land Trust Board, Maika Qarikau, attempting to hand over control of all indigenous land to the failed Speight administration.

The presiding High Court judge, Justice Andrew Wilson has asked the Legal Aid Commission to consider providing a defence counsel for Silatolu.

The commission will make its decision known to the court tomorrow.

The director of the Commission, Makareta Waqavonovono, is already defending Nata in the trial.