10 Oct 2007

Fiji judge says police commissioner may have attempted to pervert course of justiceetter of complain

11:00 am on 10 October 2007

A Fiji High Court judge has cited the police commissioner, Commodore Esala Teleni, for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Fiji TV reports that Justice Gerard Winter has written a letter of complaint to the director of public prosecutions and the Attorney General's Office asking them to investigate Commodore Teleni's alleged offences.

They relate to a confidential letter Commodore Teleni wrote to the permanent secretary for justice asking his office to change the judge presiding over the murder trial of navy commander, Francis Kean because of his perceived bias against the military.

The letter says Justice Gerard Winter and Justice Filimoni Jitoko should not preside over cases relating to the military, allegedly because they have been speaking against the military.

The confidential letter was used by Francis Kean in an affidavit asking Justice Winter to step down.

Justice Winter has refused to do so, and says the letter attributes taint and malice to his judgment and seeks to have him barred from certain cases.

Justice Winter says this raises serious issues about whether the provision of a confidential letter to an accused by a policeman is contempt of court or an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

He says the policeman's action may constitute a real risk to the authority and independence of the court.