Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fiji: A kangaroo court

Last week a Fijian court convicted eight men of conspiring to assassinate dictator Voreqe Bainimarama. In the aftermath, Peter Williams QC, the lawyer for the supposed New Zealand mastermind of the plot (who was granted a permanent stay of proceedings at an early stage) has raised questions about the fairness of the trial:

"I think the international press should make some inquiries into the validity of the trial and how the panel was put together and who appointed the judge and who appointed the assessors.

"And whether or not those appointments were made by the military and if so wasn't the military one of the main participants in the trial itself; one of the parties.

Fijian blog Coup 4.5 has done just that. The assessors (effectively a jury) were selected by Court Registrar Ana Rokomokoti - who is also a major in the Fijian army. Three of the five have close links with Bainimarama. I think that speaks for itself about the fairness of this trial.