31 May 2007

Legality of Fiji anti-corruption challenged

3:34 pm on 31 May 2007

There's been further questioning of the legality of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption as it continues to bring charges in the Suva magistrate's court.

Radio Legend reports that defence lawyer Mehboob Raza has labeled the FICAC legislation as a draconian promulgation before magistrate Aruna Prasad.

Mr Raza said the promulgation of the Commission can be easily abused by the authorities after he alleged degrading treatment of his clients.

Mr Raza is representing two immigration officers, Eroni Tuberi and Uday Nath, and a travel agent, Alvin Raj.

Mr Nath and Mr Raj are charged with conspiracy to make false declarations in order to obtain passports.

Mr Raj is alleged to have given Mr Nath 3,000 US dollars in return for Fiji passports for four Indian nationals.

Eroni Tuberi, who is an immigration officer at Nadi, and Mr Nath are both facing charges of abuse of office.

Mr Tuberi is also charged with official corruption for allegedly issuing permits in return for cash to Indian nationals wanting Fiji passports.

Mr Raj has been remanded in custody but the two immigration officers have been released on bail.

Magistrate Aruna Prasad is due to give a ruling this afternoon on whether the questions regarding the legality of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption should be referred to the High Court after it was first brought up yesterday.