28 Aug 2002

Deadline given over Silatolu defence in Fiji treason trial

6:39 am on 28 August 2002

The Fiji high court judge who will hear the coup accomplice Timoci Silatolu's treason trial has given the attorney general's office until today to clarify whether it will comply with an order relating to legal representation for the defendant.

Radio Fiji says Justice Andrew Wilson has ordered the attorney general's office to be prepared this afternoon.

Silatolu is asking the Legal Aid Commission to provide his defence, claiming he cannot fund a lawyer.

Silaotolu is facing treason charges together with former journalist Josefa Nata who is represented by the commission.

Justice Wilson said the court was aware of the mounting costs because of the delay in the trial and the strain the accused and the lawyer are under.

Silatolu's original lawyer, Kitione Vuetaki, withdrew from the case the morning of the trial was due to open after his name was found in coup-related documents seized by police from Nata's home.