10 May 2003

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs to discuss vice-president

5:00 am on 10 May 2003

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs is to discuss the case of the vice-president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, who has been charged with serious offences related to the May 200 Coup.

The chairman of the council, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says the chiefs' next meeting is scheduled for later this month.

Under Fiji's constitution, the Great Council of Chiefs has the powers to dismiss the president and the vice-president, who it appoints, for misconduct or inability to carry out their functions.

Ratu Jope has already appeared in court charged with one count of taking an unlawful oath to commit a capital offence and one count of engaging in a seditious enterprise.

The charges relate to Ratu Jope being sworn in as the usurper president immediately after the May 2000 coup when Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was still in office.

Meanwhile, Fiji's Human Rights Commission says the death penalty for treason is no longer available in the country since it was abolished last year.

But it agrees that the application of the amended legislation is being challenged in court.