5 Apr 2005

Lalabalavu's family in Fiji seeks his release one day after jailing

3:34 pm on 5 April 2005

The family of jailed Fiji lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, is seeking his early release under a compulsory supervision order similar to the one granted to the former vice president Seniloli.

Radio Legend reports that Lalabalavu's cousin, speaking from Taveuni, said the Vanua Levu high chief has already undergone four by-pass operations over the last few years and should be released.

She says the early release would be justified on health grounds.

She says they are sorry their high chief has been jailed but they will respect the law.

Lalabalavu and Senator Ratu Josefa Dimuri, both from the government's junior coalition partner, the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua party, have been jailed for eight months for their role in the Labasa army mutiny at the height of the coup.

Officials from the party are reported to be heading for Labasa to visit their party leader, Lalabalavu, and their general secretary, Dimuri.

Conservative Alliance president, Ratu Tanoa Visowaqa, says their next course of action will be decided by Friday.

Meanwhile, Radio Legend says Lalabalavu needs to be out of prison by May to ensure that he retains his parliamentary seat.

This is because any MP who misses two consecutive sessions of parliament automatically loses his seat under Fiji's constitution.