16 Dec 2005

Re-trial of Fiji soldiers again delayed

11:40 am on 16 December 2005

Deep divisions between the Fiji government and the military have again prevented the start of court martial proceedings against 20 soldiers involved in the upheavals of 2000.

Five months ago the High Court set aside their earlier conviction and sentences on a legal technicality and ordered that they be retried.

Two months ago the start of their court martial stalled because of a technicality involving the appointment of the judge advocate, Graham Leung.

Fiji TV reports that when the court martial attempted to convene yet again yesterday, Mr Leung informed them that it could not proceed because he had not been commissioned.

The president's official secretary, Rupeni Nacewa, says the ministry of home affairs has not made any recommendation to institute a commission.

The chief executive of the ministry, Lesi Korovavala, says all the government ministries and agencies consulted have not been supportive of the arrangements for the engagement of Mr Leung.

Mr Korovavala says until agreement is reached the minister for home affairs, Josefa Vosanibola, will not be able to recommend a commission for Mr Leung to the president.

No new date for a court martial has been set.