31 Jul 2002

Alleged Fiji coup maker again denied legal aid

7:03 pm on 31 July 2002

Fiji's Legal Aid Commission has handed down a compromise decision for the defence of the May 2000 coup accomplice, Timoci Silatolu, in his treason trial.

Radio Fiji says the director of the commission, Makareta Waqavonovono, told the High Court today that they have rejected Silatolu's application for state aid because he has suffificient financial assets to engage a lawyer.

But she added that the Legal Aid Commission would give one thousand and 850 US dollars towards his legal costs which would have to be reimbursed in reasonable time.

She also asked that arrangements be made for Silatolu to have access to his assets.

The former MP has been in custody since his arrest some months after the coup.

But Silatolu has appealed the decision, and re-applied for full legal aid with the assistance of the Human Rights Commission.

The Legal Aid Commission is expected to consider the matter furter and report back to the High Court tomorrow.

Silatolu's lawyer, Kitione Vuetaki, withdrew from the case on the day the treason trial was due to begin after his name was found in coup related documents seized by the police.