9 Apr 2005

Jailed former Fiji minister to seek early release - report

8:15 am on 9 April 2005

A report from Fiji says the jailed former minister for lands and high chief, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, is likely to apply to be allowed to serve his prison sentence extramurally.

Lalabalavu was imprisoned for eight months this week after being convicted for coup related offences, and resigned from cabinet.

Radio Legend quotes reliable sources as saying that Lalabalavu has decided to make the application for an early release soon.

The report says he can make an application for an early release under a Compulsory Supervision Order, which could be granted by the minister for justice, Qoriniasi Bale.

Alternatively, Lalabalavu can apply to serve his sentence extramurally; in which case the commissioner of prisons, Aisea Taoka, has the final say.

Radio Legend says this step is being taken to ensure that Lalabalavu retains his parliamentary seat.

He stands to lose his seat if he misses two consecutive sessions, which are due this month and next, without the Speaker's approval.

The prisons commissioner says he's not yet received any application from Lalabalavu.

The minister for justice released the jailed former vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, after just three months of his four-year sentence on charges of trying to become the usurper president during the coup.