9 Oct 2002

Fiji atttorney general cautioned over penalty comments

12:26 pm on 9 October 2002

Fiji's attorney general, Qoroniasi Bale, has been cautioned to stop making statements on the provision for the death penalty under military law.

The Sun newspaper says the caution has been issued by one of the two lawyers defending the 15 Fiji soldiers facing court martial for the November 2000 mutiny, Kelemedi Bulewa.

Mr Bulewa says it is wrong for Mr Bale to be making comments on the issue when the court martial is still underway.

Mr Bale has been quoted as saying that while the death penalty has been removed from the penal code, the government also wants it removed from military law.

The attorney general also said that Fiji's president, as commander in chief of the military, has the powers to commute any death senetence that may be pronounced on soldiers found guilty of mutiny.

But Mr Bulewa says military law gives soldiers the right of appeal.

He says this means that the execution of the death penalty would be entirely up to the court of appeal.

The court martial is in its final stages with the defence submission due to be given today.

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