29 Jun 2007

Outgoing Fiji Appeal Court President rejects request to intervene in Heffernan case

8:09 am on 29 June 2007

The outgoing president of the Fiji Court of Appeal, Justice Gordon Ward, has ruled that he has no powers to intervene in the case of human rights activist, Angie Heffernan, against the military and its commander.

Another Appeal Court judge, Justice John Byrne, had earlier set aside an order restraining the Fiji military from detaining or questioning Ms Heffernan after the military had appealed.

Ms Heffernan had challenged Justice Byrne's right to make such a ruling or to hear the case.

Justice Ward said he was asked to intervene in the case on the basis that Justice Byrne had no right to sit on the case and should not have.

Justice Ward said he could not intervene because neither the constitution nor the Appeal Court Act gave the court president any more power than that given to all judges of the Appeal Court.

Justice Ward said one judge could not sit in an appeal against an equal judge.

Ms Heffernan's lawyer, Tupou Draunidalo, who is sitting in for the deported Australian lawyer Dr John Cameron, said she was pleased with the ruling.

Justice Ward's term as president of the Appeal Court ended yesterday and the position is now vacant.