4 Nov 2004

Fiji vice-president's appeal hearing complete

10:33 am on 4 November 2004

The Fiji Court of Appeal has completed hearing the vice president Ratu Jope Seniloli's appeal against his four-year prison sentence.

Radio Fiji reports that a judgment is expected next week.

Seniloli was sent to prison for taking an illegal oath to become the usurper president immediately after the coup while the then legally appointed president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was still in office.

The appeal also covers the jailed Deputy Speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, and three others who were all sworn in as purported ministers in George Speight's failed administration.

Their lawyers have argued that the presiding High Court judge, Justice Nazhat Shameem, made errors in law and that the prosecution abused the legal process.

The Appeal Court judges have given the lawyers for Seniloli and the others as well as the prosecution until tomorrow to make additional written submissions.

But the appellants will not have to appear in court until further notice.

Outside the court, one of the appellants, Peceli Rinakama, told Radio Legend that if their appeals are not successful, they will be making applications to be transferred to Nukulau Island where George Speight is serving his life sentence.