18 Aug 2003

Fiji army officer to challenge Appeal Court ruling that he is absent without leave

10:36 am on 18 August 2003

Controversial Fiji army officer, Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini, is to launch a Supreme Court challenge of a Court of Appeal ruling that he is not free to resign at will and is therefore absent without official leave

The officer is currently working in Israel for the United Nations Paecekeeping Department and has refused to return home, instead sending a letter last year which was rejected by the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainmarama.

The Appeal Court has upheld the rejection but Lt Col Tarakinikini's lawyer Samuela Matawalu, says he has been instructed to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

The Appeal court has also unanimously ruled that investigations into Lt Col Tarakinikini can continue.

The army wants the officer to return to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the May 2000 cou[p.

The military spokesman, Warrant officer Neumi Leweni says army lawyers are now studying ways and means to bring Lt Col Tarakinikini back to the country.