13 Jun 2007

Senior Fiji civil servant dodges immigration authorities

9:58 am on 13 June 2007

A former senior Fiji civil servant who is on the country's travel watchlist has slipped past immigration controls to take up a job in Solomon Islands.

The Fiji Times reports that the ousted chief executive of the home affairs ministry, Dr Lesi Korovavala, is now the Forum Secretariat's representative in Solomon Islands.

The director of immigration, Commander Viliame Naupoto, says Dr Korovavala's name is on the watch list of people banned from leaving but somehow he slipped through.

Fiji's military has criticised the Forum Secretariat for appointing Dr Korovavala, saying it is disappointed because he is undergoing investigation for his role in the attempted mutiny in January last year.

The military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, says this is seen as a deliberate attempt to evade investigation and will cast an air of suspicion on the manner in which the Forum Secretariat makes appointments to regional jobs.

But a Forum spokesman says staff appointments are based on merit from a field of candidates interviewed in a publicly advertised application process.