27 Jan 2004

Fiji lawyer challenges court martial's authority

3:47 pm on 27 January 2004

A defence lawyer for some of the 66 Fiji soldiers charged in connection with the May 2000 coup has challenged the authority of the military panel hearing their court martial.

The Daily Post reports that the objections has been lodged by Sevuloni Valenitabua.

Mr Valenitabua says the panel has no jurisdiction to hear the treason and misprision of treason charges against his clients because it has yet to be sworn in.

Mr Valenitabua has taken the matter of jurisdiction to the Supreme court and says the swearing in of the military panel should await its decision.

The prosecution has agreed to this.

In the meantime. the court martial of another 23 soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny is due to resume in Suva today.