26 Sep 2006

Fiji's PM ordered not to leave Fiji

5:59 am on 26 September 2006

The Suva High Court has ordered Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, not to leave Fiji because he is required as a witness in the trial of the sacked former head of the agriculture ministry, Peniasi Kunatuba.

Also included in Justice Nazhat Shameem's order are several other cabinet and junior ministers in Mr Qarase's current government, his former interim administration, the Speaker of parliament and senior public servants.

Mr Kunatuba is facing trial on two counts of abuse of office in connection with the 13-million US dollar agriculture ministry scam in 2001.

Present in the Suva High Court yesterday were the finance minister, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, the fisheries minister Ilaitia Tuisese, the minister for women George Shiu Raj, several other present and former ministers and public servants.

Also in court was the paramount chief jailed for life for inciting the November 2000 mutiny, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata.

Mr Qarase was required to produce documents relating to the case but failed to appear in the court yesterday despite a subpoena.

The trial gets under way today.