24 Jun 2006

Fiji's High court rejects application by controversial Fiji army officer

9:13 am on 24 June 2006

The Suva High Court has rejected an application by the controversial Fiji army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini, for a judicial review of President Iloilo's refusal to accept his resignation from overseas.

Radio Fiji reports that the judgment effectively means that Lieutenant Colonel Tarakinikini is liable to be recalled to Fiji to face military charges.

In a summary of his judgment, Justice Gerard Winter, says Lieutenant Colonel Tarakinikini was appointed chief of staff of the military by the coup front man, George Speight, and later investigated for his alleged involvement in the coup.

Justice Winter says the President, as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has the power not to accept Tarakinikini's resignation.

He says the commander-in-chief's decision to accept or reject a commissioned officer's resignation does not pose issues of the kind which courts are competent to deal with.

Justice Winter says Lieutenant Colonel Tarakinikini could not challenge either the president's rejection of his resignation or procedural steps leading up to it.

Lieutenant Colonel Tarakinikini has been overseas since early 2001 and has refused to come back despite an order from the military.