18 Jan 2007

Suspended Fiji chief justice criticises Gates appointment

11:27 am on 18 January 2007

Fiji's suspended chief justice says he is still the substantive holder of the office even though the military sent him on enforced leave.

Daniel Fatiaki says the appointment of Justice Anthony Gates as acting chief justice is a disgrace and a betrayal of trust by him and by Justice Nazhat Shameem.

Justice Shameem, who is the next most senior judge after Justice Fatiaki, chaired a meeting of the Judicial Services Commission which recommended to the president that Justice Gates be appointed.

Justice Fataiki says the appointment was completely unnecessary and he should have been called to chair the meeting.

But the interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum, says the comments by Justice Fatiaki are unfortunate and inappropriate of a judicial officer.

He says he asked Justice Shameem to chair the Judicial Services Commission after obtaining independent legal advice from a Queen's Counsel.

The president of the Fiji Law Society, Davnesh Sharma, says Justice Gates' appointment is entirely within the constitution because it is only an acting appointment.

The director of the Fiji Legal Aid Commission, Vilimone Vosarogo, says Justice Gates has done his job well and he entirely supports his appointment as acting chief justice.