Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fiji Justice System in a Mess

Contracts axed on first day of work

Shalveen Chand - Wednesday, January 06, 2010

THE contracts of three prosecution lawyers were terminated, on the first day in office of Acting Director of Public Prosecution Aca Rayawa.

Another DPP lawyer also resigned on Monday.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Navinesh Nand, senior prosecutor Heilala Tabete and Apataia Rokotuni had their contracts terminated, while Nancy Tikoisuva resigned from her post. Acting DPP Aca Rayawa, whose was appointed to the post on December 31 last year did not clarify why the three were terminated.

Late yesterday there was no word on when replacement prosecutors would be sought by the Acting DPP.

The terminations come on the heels of three magistrates having their contracts terminated on December 31 last year in what is seen as a major reshuffle of judicial officers.

The termination of three magistrates, Eparama Rokoika, Elsie Hudson and Mary Muir, saw matters before them referred to other magistrates.

Chief Magistrate Major Ana Rokomokoti handled Magistrates Court One in Suva yesterday.

Court clerks gave out later dates for cases which were set for mention in Courts Two and Courts Five, while serious matters such as sentencing, bail hearings and renewal of remand terms were heard by magistrates in Courts Three and Four.

Magistrate Thushara Rajasinghe sentenced a man for assaulting a police officer, a matter which was previously before magistrate Rokoika.

Another sentencing set for Mr Rokoika's court was adjourned to a later date. Major Rokomokoti has not stated when replacement magistrates will be put in place, however more Sri Lankan magistrates were expected to join the judiciary.

Over the weekend, Major Rokomokoti also said that former DPP John Rabuku was free to return as a magistrate if he wished to do so.

Rabuku was replaced by former Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption prosecutor Aca Rayawa. He was with the DPP's office before joining the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

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