10 Oct 2008

Fiji human rights commissioner questions court's independence after coup verdict

4:23 pm on 10 October 2008

A Fiji human rights commissioner, Shamima Ali, says yesterday's court ruling legitimising the December 2006 coup shows that the courts are not independent.

Three judges threw out the challenge by the ousted prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, questioning the legality of the military takeover.

The court found the coup valid and granted immunity to the military leaders.

Ms Ali says the political and democratic system have been compromised by yesterday's ruling.

"A lot of people expected this kind of result, because the people who sat on the bench have been appointed after December 2006, its independence can therefore be questioned. The political comments that have been made in the judgment are uncalled for and not the place of the presiding judge to make, particularly about immunity, because that's going to perpetuate the coup cycle."

Shamima Ali hopes there'll be an appeal with a panel of independent judges, she otherwise predicts a bleak future for the country.