15 Apr 2005

Criticism in Fiji over release of Lalabalavu and Dimuri

8:50 am on 15 April 2005

There's fierce criticism in Fiji of the early release of the jailed former minister for lands, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and government senator, Ratu Josefa Dimuri.

The two were released from Labasa Prison yesterday after just 11 days of their 8-month sentence on coup related charges.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum says their release is direct political interference in the judicial process.

The Forum's director, the Rev Aquila Yabaki, say other prisoners who have behaved well in jail will learn that they are lesser humans being than a cabinet minister or senator under the Qarase government.

The Fiji Labour Party has condemned the early releases as selective justice.

Its spokesman, Poseci Bune, says while two young politicians have been released, another two elderly chiefs jailed for the same length of time for the same offence remain in Labasa prison.

Mr Bune says the people of Fiji cannot forget the terror and lawlessness unleashed in the North by rebels led by Ratu Naiqama and Senator Dimuri.

He says Mr Qarase should seriously consider his suitability to continue in office as prime minister.