8 May 2009

Fiji lawyer says no interference by regime for released soldiers

7:06 am on 8 May 2009

A lawyer who defended army officers in Fiji, who have been granted release soon after they were sentenced for manslaughter, has rejected suggestions the government may have secured their early release.

Maika Vuniwawa was sentenced a month ago to three years in prison for the manslaughter of Tailevu villager Nimilote Verebasaga in 2007.

Vuniwawa's lawyer, Haroon Ali Shah says he is unsure if his client has been released yet but says the Commissioner of Prisons has approved his release under a compulsory supervision order.

The case follows the release of eight army officers and a police officer for the manslaughter of Sakiusa Rabaka less than two months after they were sentenced to four years in prison.

Mr Shah denies the government is behind their early release.

"Oh no no no, in fact there has never been any interference by the regime in either the trial process or pretrial process or even after the sentence."

Mr Shah says he is unsure whether the men will be able to return to the military.