8 Mar 2007

Fiji Attorney-General halts inquiry into early release of former Vice-President

11:22 am on 8 March 2007

The investigation into the early release from prison of the jailed former Fiji vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, has been halted.

The investigation began when the medical report on which Ratu Jope's release was based was found to be missing from the office of the minister of justice and doubts arose about its propriety.

The interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum, says the report was located in the office of the commissioner of prisons and found to be without any blatant irregularities.

Ratu Jope's release was authorised by the deposed attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, and challenged in court by the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

Meanwhile, Mr Sayed-Khayum says the chief magistrate, Naomi Matanitobua, will return to work on Monday.

The military sent Mrs Matanitobua and the chief justice, Daniel Fatiaki, on leave in late December pending investigations into allegations of corruption, irregularities and gross inefficiency in the judicial system.

Mr Sayed-Khayum says throughout her leave Mrs Matanitobua had maintained her decorum and acted in a very responsible manner.

He says the decision to recall Mrs Matanitobua was made by the Judicial Services Commission while Mr Fatiaki's suspension was on the orders of President Iloilo.