21 Jun 2005

Fiji's former Australian prosecutor ordered to leave country

3:30 pm on 21 June 2005

Fiji's former deputy director of public prosecutions, Peter Ridgway, has been ordered to leave the country within 24 hours, or face arrest, imprisonment and forcible deportation.

Radio Legend reports the order was issued in a letter by the acting director of immigration.

Mr Ridgway, an Australian national who spearheaded coup prosecutions in Fiji for the last four years, has described the order as an amazing development.

But he says following discussions between various officials today, he was told the order was withdrawn, adding that he hopes this is the case.

Mr Ridgway, who was scheduled to leave on Sunday anyway, says he believes this latest order is linked to his short term contract not being approved by the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

He says it is paradoxical that after helping to restore law and order and bring the country back from the brink of anarchy, this is the thanks he has got for agreeing to come back to Fiji to assist at the DPP request, not his own.

Mr Ridgway says "this has cost him a lot of money and extraordinary amounts of inconvenience and embarrassment."

Mr Ridgway says he "resents this deeply and bitterly."