26 Feb 2005

Trial of Fiji transport minister Kaitani to begin in May

8:09 am on 26 February 2005

The High Court trial of Fiji's transport minister, Simione Kaitani, and four others on serious coup related charges will begin in May.

Kaitani, Viliame Sausauwai, Eroni Lewaqai, Levani Tonitonivanua, and Antonio Tanaburenisau have been charged with taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence.

The charge, which is equivalent to treason, relates to their being sworn in as purported ministers in George Speight's failed administration during the coup.

A sixth accused, Manasa Moce, died two weeks ago.

Justice Anthony Gates has told three of the accused who are still un-represented to find lawyers to defend them and seek assistance from the Legal Aid Commission.

Justice Gates has deferred taking their plea until all have legal representation.

A pre-trial conference will begin on March the 11th.