18 Mar 2003

Former Fiji MP defends right to file compensation writ

3:48 pm on 18 March 2003

A former MP in Fiji says justice needs to come before reconciliation as a group of MPs goes ahead with a writ for compensation over being deposed in the May 2000 coup.

Lavinia Padarath, a former minister for social welfare, women and culture, made the comments after the Information minister, Simione Kaitani, criticised the group, saying it was a slap in the face for the reconciliation process.

But, Mrs Padarath, says Mr Kaitani has no right to speak out when he took such an active part in the coup and has benefitted so much from it.

"He was sworn in as one of Speights ministers. He is one of the people that has benefitted the most in fact, now he is a full cabinet minister. I think he should not even be opening his mouth because we see him as one of the culprits responsible for May 2000."

Mrs Padarath, says the MPs were unfairly treated, suffered loss of income and were held captive in parliament during the coup.

The group is claiming over 30 million U.S. dollars in damages.