11 Oct 2007

Fiji police commissioner defends letter calling for replacement of two judges in some cases

10:40 am on 11 October 2007

Fiji's police commissioner, Commodore Esala Teleni, has denied any breach of rules when he wrote a confidential letter to the attorney general's office saying Justice Gerard Winter and Justice Filimoni Jitoko should not preside over cases relating to the military.

The letter said the two judges had been speaking against the military and asked the permanent secretary for justice to change the judge in the case in which Justice Winter is presiding over the murder trial of former navy commander, Francis Kean.

Justice Winter has complained about the letter and called for an investigation, saying it has raised issues about whether it is contempt of court or an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

But Commodore Teleni says he had received complaints against the two judges and as the commissioner responsible for the police, he had forwarded those allegations to the proper authorities who should deal with it.

Commodore Teleni says he does not see any breach of regulations and if anyone is to be investigated, it should be the two judges.

Meanwhile, the interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says there has been no interference with the judiciary and Justice Winter will continue to hear the case.