3 Oct 2002

Fiji Labour MPs say amendment to bail laws will favour remand prisoners on Nukulau Island

11:54 am on 3 October 2002

Fiji's House of Representatives has passed amendments to the Bail Bill opening the way for those awaiting trial on charges related to the May 2000 coup to await trial at home.

The Fiji Times reports the amendment means that the courts must release suspects who have been remanded in custody for two years or more awaiting trial.

Legal sources say coup accomplices such as Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu who are awaiting trial on treason charges may be allowed bail because they have been in custody for more than two years.

Fiji Labour Party MPs have accused the government of tailoring the Bill to suit the purposes of remand prisoners held on Nukulau Island.

Nata had personally made a submission to parliament's justice, law and order committee in favour of the bill.

The deputy chair of the committee, Ofa Swan, said after listening to Nata, they decided that 24 months on remand was too long and he had the right to have his case heard in a reasonable time.