27 Nov 2007

Fiji's suspended chief justice's tribunal holds preliminary hearing

7:00 am on 27 November 2007

The three-member international tribunal which will hear charges against Fiji's suspended chief justice, Daniel Fatiaki, has held its preliminary sitting and then adjourned till February for substantive hearings.

Its chair and former Australian attorney general, Justice Robert Ellicott, said the charges against Mr Fatiaki are serious and he wants anyone who has any evidence to come forward.

Justice Ellicott said the tribunal members had an open mind and had not had anything to do with framing the allegations against Mr Fatiaki which he described as serious.

Mr Fatiaki's lawyer, Graham Leung, tried to have the proceedings stopped on the grounds his client is currently challenging his suspension in the High Court and the legality of the tribunal is part of that case.

But Justice Ellicott ruled that the High Court has not made any ruling on the matter and they must proceed with their work.

The tribunal has set February 13th to 29th for the substantive hearing with a further sitting in April if the case is not completed.

The other two members of the tribunal are Justice Raymond Sears, a judge of the High Court of Hong Kong, and Tan Sri Datuk Dr Lal Chand Vohra, a former judge of the High Court of Malaysia.

Mr Fatiaki did not appear before the tribunal and was represented only by his counsel.