5 Jul 2005

Fiji mutineers challenge legality of court martial

10:19 am on 5 July 2005

A group of Fiji soldiers convicted and jailed for their role in the November 2000 mutiny are challenging the legality of their court martial.

The director of the Legal Aid Commission, Makareta Waqavonovono, is arguing their challenge in the Fiji Court of Appeal.

Ms Waqavonovono has told the court that only the commander-in-chief of the military, President Iloilo, has the power to convene a court martial.

She said there was no evidence that President Iloilo had delegated this power to the commander, Commodore Bainimarama.

Ms Waqavonovono has also questioned the independence of the court martial when Commodore Bainimarama called for an inquiry into the mutiny, decided the charges and appointed the court martial panel when he himself was the complainant.

All the appellants are serving prison sentences for their role in the mutiny which was aimed at assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and freeing George Speight.

It claimed 8 lives and caused more than 30 injuries.

A Fiji government senator, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata is serving a life sentence in Suva Prison for inciting the mutiny.