1 Oct 2007

Short deferral in case challenging legality of Fiji military coup

7:34 pm on 1 October 2007

The hearing of the deposed Fiji prime minister Laisenia Qarase's legal challenge to the overthrow of his government has been deferred, but only for two days.

The hearing was scheduled to begin tomorrow but Radio Legend reports that Mr Qarase's lawyer, Tevita Fa, asked the High Court that the case be deferred for a week.

Mr Fa said their lawyer from Australia, Stephen Gagler QC, was busy in another case in Sydney and could not attend the Suva court tomorrow.

But the acting chief justice, Anthony Gates, and fellow High Court judge, Justice John Byrne, declined Mr Fa's application to defer the trial for a week because of its importance and the national interest in it.

Instead, Justice Gates ruled that the hearing would start in two days on Thursday instead of tomorrow and it was very important for Mr Gagler to be present.

He said the two-day period would allow the prosecution to fine-tune their case.

Mr Qarase is expected to be one of the main witnesses in the case in which the defendants are the military and its commander and the interim administration.