Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fiji: no immunity for murder

One of the first actions of Fiji's military regime after the coup was to force the President to promulgate a decree granting them full and unconditional immunity from criminal, civil and professional proceedings for actions relating to the overthrow of the government. One of the concerns around this was that it would be used by military thugs who had killed people to get away with murder, and they have tried to do just that. But now the courts have ruled that there is no immunity for murder:

THE Immunity Promulgation of 2007 is only applicable to acts that led to the removal of officials of the legislative and executive arms of government, the High Court in Suva ruled yesterday.

Justice Daniel Goundar ruled the Immunity Promulgation does not immune [sic] anyone from prosecution for an offence of murder allegedly committed in the process of removing the officials.

For that reason, Justice Goundar said, Corporal Maika Vuniwawa was not immune from prosecution for the charge of murder.

The murder charge is over the death of Nimilote Verebasaga, who was taken to a military camp on January 5, 2007, and came out in a bodybag. Vuniwawa is accused of beating him to a pulp. And hopefully, this ruling will mean that there will finally be justice for his death.