30 Apr 2002

Fiji lawyer delays court action against the country's military commander

10:17 am on 30 April 2002

The lawyer for controversial Fiji army officer,Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini, is hoping to take advantage of the army commander's absence overseas to have his client's resignation accepted.

Colonel Iowane Naivalurua is acting military commander while Commodore Frank Bainimarama is visiting troops in the Middle East.

Radio Fiji quotes the lawyer, Samuela Matawalu, as saying he will hold off suing Commodore Bainmarama to allow the acting commander to respond to his clients demand that his resignation be accepted.

Mr Matawalu says he is willing to put his faith in Col Naivalurua to handle the matter differently from Commodore Bainimarama.

The lawyer is banking on prime minister, Laisenia Qarase's letter to the UN secretary-general last year which said Col Tarakinikini had been cleared of coup allegations by the police and the army.

Col Naivalurua is reported to have written to Mr Matawalu saying the army would like to seek a legal opinion on the issue.

Mr Matawalu says he believes the matter can be resolved without going to court.

Lt Col Tarakinikini is resisting the miltary's request to return to Fiji and answer allegations about his involvement in the coup and the mutiny six months later.