15 Mar 2005

Jailed Fiji senator to retain his salary

8:11 pm on 15 March 2005

The Fiji government senator jailed for life, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, will continue to retain his seat in the Upper House and be paid his salary in prison.

Radio Legend reports that this is the ruling given by the president of the senate, Taito Waqavakatoga.

It follows a request by Takiveikata to be given leave of absence beyond the two sessions of parliament that is normally allowed.

The secretary general to parliament, Mary Chapman, says Mr Waqavakatoga has given Takiveikata leave on the grounds that he has filed an appeal against his conviction.

The Suva High Court jailed Takiveikata for life after finding him guilty of inciting the November 2000 mutiny which claimed 8 lives and left more than 30 people injured.

Under Fiji's constitution, any member of parliament jailed for more than 12 months ceases to be a registered voter and automatically loses his seat.

It also says that the senate president has the right to declare a seat vacant if a member misses two consecutive sessions of the Upper House, which has been the case with Takiveikata.

Last December, the Speaker of the Lower House, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, dismissed the deputy speaker, Ratu Rakuita Vakalabure, from his Vanua Levu seat after he had missed two sessions of parliament because he is prison for six years.

Vakalalabure had also applied for leave of absence from the House pending his appeal later this year.

But Ratu Epeli dismissed that application saying it had no merit.