21 May 2005

Fiji transport minister appears in court on coup-related charges

8:32 am on 21 May 2005

Fiji's transport minister, Simione Kaitani, and four others have again appeared in court on coup related charges.

Mr Kaitani, Viliame Sausauwai, Eroni Lewaqai, Levani Tonitonivanua and Antonio Burenisau are charged with taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence by purporting to become ministers in George Speight's failed administration during the coup.

Radio Legend says defence lawyers for the five accused argued in court yesterday that the charges against their clients are very serious and equivalent to treason.

They asked for more time to prepare the defence but the High Court judge, Justice Anthony Gates, has adjourned the case till next Thursday.

Meanwhile, the cabinet, of which Mr Kaitani is a part, has approved legislation to go before parliament which will see the Reconciliation and Unity Commission set up.

That commission will have the powers to ask the court to suspend the proceedings against Mr Kaitani if he applies for amnesty.