1 Nov 2004

Takiveikata loses bid to have other Fiji high chiefs hear his mutiny trial

4:52 pm on 1 November 2004

The Suva High Court has rejected a Fiji government senator and provincial paramount chief's application to have his mutiny related trial heard by other high chiefs.

Ratu Inoke Takiveikata is facing four counts of inciting mutiny and one of aiding soldiers in the November 2000 army mutiny which claimed 8 lives.

Radio Legend reports that Takiveikata's Australian lawyer, Gabriel Wendler, had argued that a commoner on the panel of assessors would be oppressive and disrespectful to the accused high chief.

He said Takiveikata's status required him to be tried by people of noble birth, otherwise he would feel insulted and embarrassed by a trial by social inferiors or by a person of another ethnic group.

But Justice Anthony Gates rejected the application, saying a special panel of assessors is not needed in the case as it does not deal with any ethnic or cultural issues.

Justice Gates said the case does not deal with a strictly ethnic Fijian matter, or an inquiry into a native land right, or an entitlement to a chiefly title, or traditional fishing rights.

Justice Gates said the High Court criminal trial deals with incitement to mutiny and aiding soldiers in an act of mutiny.

He said this was an attempt to dislocate the military in a modern, democratic state.

Justice Gates rejected the application and the trial proper begins this afternoon.