17 Jan 2005

Fiji auditor general begins investigation of Seniloli pension

11:52 am on 17 January 2005

Fiji's auditor general has begun investigations into how the state is paying a pension to a convicted, high profile prisoner serving his sentence outside jail.

The Fiji Sun reports that the auditor general, Eroni Vatuleka, has confirmed that they are investigating the circumstances under which the convicted former vice president, Seniloli, is being paid a pension despite his prison sentence.

Seniloli was released after only three months of his 4-year sentence for taking an illegal oath to become the usurper president during the coup and now collects a tax-free vice presidential pension.

Last week, Fiji's military issued a public statement challenging the Attorney General's Office, the finance ministry and the public service commission to explain how a state prisoner is collecting a pension.

The three organisations have not responded.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum has filed a legal challenge in the High Court seeking a judicial review of the attorney general and minister for justice, Qoriniasi Bale's decision to grant Seniloli a premature release.

The CCF said if Seniloli's release was allowed to stand, then other prisoners serving time for coup related offence would also be lining up to be released on Compulsory Supervision Orders.

The CCF's executive director, the Rev Akuila Yabaki said they want to ensure that Seniloli's premature release is not allowed to set a precedent.