3 Jul 2017

Nauru govt ditches lawyers for Aust law firm in protest case

2:56 pm on 3 July 2017

The 18 Nauruans facing charges over an anti-government protest more than two years ago are expecting to face an Australian legal team when the pre-trial hearings continue later this month.

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Photo: 123 RF

Reports from Nauru said the government had ditched its own legal team and hired a large Australian legal firm, Ashurst - which bills itself as a leading multi-national law firm.

One of the defendants, former secretary of justice and cabinet minister, Mathew Batsiua, said hiring a firm believed to be one of the more expensive in Australia showed a loss of confidence by the Nauru government in its own lawyers.

He said he expected bringing in Australia lawyers to prosecute the case would improve accountability.

"For example we are having concerns that some of the key evidence that we want to use in our stay application is being expunged from the court records, so we would want to think that the lawyers that are engaged in jurisdictions like Australia would have ethical, if not legal, concerns about those kinds of actions - the expunging of records, for example."

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