4 Oct 2007

Qarase's case against Fiji coup opens in Suva

3:38 pm on 4 October 2007

The case involving the legal challenge mounted by the deposed Fiji Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, against the overthrow of his government last December has begun in Suva.

Opening submission have been made by both sides.

State lawyer Guy Reynolds QC said their principal argument in the case would be that the events of December 5th and onwards were undertaken on the directive of the President of Fiji.

Mr Reynolds called on the judges not bring before the courts the actions of the president which led to the removal of the government.

Mr Reynolds said the president has sovereign powers and there is nothing that would justify getting the courts to pronounce how and why the president did what he did on December 5th.

In his opening address, Mr Qarase's lawyer, Nye Parram, highlighted the events leading up to December 5th and said they would provide evidence of various correspondence between the military and the SDL government which led to the military takeover.

Mr Parram said on the morning of December 5th Mr Qarase received a call from the president's official secretary, Rupeni Naceva, informing him that the president wanted to avoid a coup and was asking the prime minister to resign.

He also said the President had done nothing - a soldier had purported to dismiss the Prime Minister, appoint a caretaker Government and dissolved Parliament.

Mr Parram further argued that the army commander could not have acted under the Doctrine of Necessity because the crisis arose out of his own action.