17 Oct 2002

Fiji's new Bail Bill is approved by the Senate

11:59 am on 17 October 2002

Fiji's senate has passed a bill which may allow the May 2000 accomplices, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu to go home to await their treason trial.

Currently they are held on remand on Nukulau island where the other coup convicts are imprisoned.

The new Bail Bill allows accused persons who have been held in remand for more than two years to be freed to attend their trial from home under conditions set by the court.

The attorney-general, Qoriniasi Bale, told the Upper House that two people have been awaiting trial for more than two years while 21 others have been awaiting trial since 2001 for crimes ranging from murder, rape and taking part in the coup.

He said preparations for their trials have not even started.

Mr Bale said there are 25 soldiers undergoing trial who have been in prison since 2000.

The attorney general said the Bail Bill would make a difference to the lives of these people.

But some senators have expressed doubt about the bill with Senator Kenneth Low saying bail should not be granted to those accused of murder and rape.

Senator Low said if the justice system was efficient, there would not be so many people on remand.