21 Sep 2004

Seniloli appeal paid with public money, says Fiji CCF

9:00 pm on 21 September 2004

The Citizens Constitutional Forum says the appeals of the jailed Fiji vice president Ratu Jope Seniloli and deputy Speaker Ratu Rakuita Vakalabure against their convictions are being paid for with public money.

This is because both men are being paid their salaries even though they are in prison and unable to perform the functions of their office.

The CCF's executive director, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says this is "absolutely outrageous."

The Reverend Yabaki says instead of seeking legal advice on whether the payments are legal, "someone must have the authority to stop them."

He says Fiji remains "an international laughing stock" while Seniloli and Vakalabure use their "improperly paid salaries using taxpayers' money" to fund their appeals against conviction.

The Reverend Yabaki says "the explanation seems to be that the government believes the coup plotters deserve special treatment" and he is questioning what other prisoner ever had it so good.

Earlier this week, the chief executive of the Prime Minister's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu, said even if the two men's pay is stopped, they would still be entitled to their pensions.