11 Mar 2004

Fijian lawyers rally to keep colleague out of jail

8:11 am on 11 March 2004

Indigenous Fijian lawyers in Suva rallied yesterday to keep fellow defence lawyer in the mutiny court martial case, Vodo Tuberi, out of jail.

The Fiji Times reports that Tuberi had been remanded in custody for failing to pay three thousand nine hundred US dollars in employees contributions to the National Provident Fund.

Suva lawyer, Sireli Fa, says he called all other Fijian lawyers in the capital to help raise the money.

Mr Fa says he was about to start collecting when he learnt that Tuberi had manged to raise the money while in custody to meet the 4:30 deadline imposed by magistrate, Naomi Lomaiviti.

Tuberi then took an oath for a means test over how he would pay the balance of the three thousand six hundred US dollars still owing.

Ms Lomaiviti has ordered Tuberi to pay 360 dollars a month until the amount is paid, failing which he will automatically be jailed for six months.

The military court martial of a second group of 23 soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny had to be adjourned yesterday because Tuberi was in custody.

It will resume this afternoon.