1 May 2007

Two Fiji fisheries officials face abuse of office charges

3:17 pm on 1 May 2007

The Suva High Court has ruled that there is sufficient evidence for two former senior Fiji fisheries officials to stand trail on charges of abuse of office.

The two are the former permanent secretary for fisheries and forests, Vuetasau Buatoko, and a former director of fisheries, Maciu Ligabalavu.

Justice Nazhat Shameem has rejected an application by their lawyer, Iqbal Khan, that there was no case to answer because of the absence of a key witness.

She said on the basis of evidence disclosed, the facts are capable of proving a prima facie case of abuse of office.

The defendants are alleged to have allowed a commercial fishing company, Saheb Holdings, to fish in Fiji waters in 2003 without a licence after it had expired.

The trial will begin next week.