16 May 2003

Fiji's deputy speaker appeals lifetime ban to practice law

5:21 am on 16 May 2003

The deputy speaker of Fiji's parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, has filed an appeal against the lifetime ban from practising law placed on him by the Fiji Law Society.

The Fiji Court of Appeal will hear the case in chambers next week.

Ratu Rakuita is arguing that the Law Society's disciplinary committee which heard the charges against him was not properly constituted under the Legal Practitioners Act.

He also says the committee had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had breached his lawyer's oath.

Ratu Rakuita was disbarred for taking an oath to become the attorney general in George Speight's failed administration immediately after the coup.

The disciplinary committee said Ratu Rakuita's explanation of his actions showed a serious lack of understanding of the rule of law.

Ratu Rakuita is also facing court charges of taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence and engaging in seditious enterprise.

He will appear in court next month to answer this charge along with the vice-president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, the sports minister, Isireli Leweniqila and three others who were all sworn in as part of Speight's administration.