19 Oct 2005

Legal advice to Fiji president cast into doubt

7:50 pm on 19 October 2005

Questions are being asked in Fiji about the quality of legal advice being given to the country's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Radio Fiji says this follows the cancellation of the second court martial of a group soldiers involved in the November 2000 mutiny whose retrial was ordered by the Appeal Court.

Earlier today President Iloilo, who is commander in chief of the military, revoked the convening order for the court martial and the appointment of the President of the Fiji Law Society, Graham Leung, as judge advocate.

This happened a week after the court martial was originally scheduled to begin but did not because prison authorities failed to produce some of the soldiers they are holding.

The military's legal services division says President Iloilo now wants to appoint his own judge advocate given that Mr Leung's appointment was on the recommendation of the military.

Radio Fiji says questions are being asked why the President's Office had approved Mr Leung's appointment when it was first made.

It is understood the president wants to appoint its own judge advocate because questions of impartiality could have arisen as Mr Leung was the military's nomination.