#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2012-07-01

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two judges now caught up in case against Karunaratne

It could have been a scene from the Hollywood court room drama, A Few Good Men, except many of us know in Fiji, the good guy doesn't win. 

In the Tom Cruise movie, legal eagle Danny Kaffee takes on the U.S. Navy and wins: in the Jagath Karunaratne case versus the regime, the Director of Public Prosecutions is making up the rules as he goes along.

Those following the case and our earlier story will know that Karunaratne and his lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry, were forced to go back to the court room after Fiji's Chief Magistrate did a u-turn on a decision to allow him to have his passport to travel to Sri Lanka on a $5000 surety.

The hearing in the High Court yesterday afternoon followed Usaia Ratuvili's unusual decision to suspend his own ruling until the Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, had time to formally file against it.  

In front of a packed Suva courtroom, Justice Salesi Temo (pictured above left) agreed with Karunaratne's lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry (pictured above right), the state had not followed procedure saying: "This is like getting hold of me on the streets and asking for a judgement." 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chief magistrate does u-turn after regime interferes in Karunaratne decision

Usaia Ratuvili
More proof today that Fiji's judiciary is compromised and that decisions are being steered by the illegal government.

Fiji's chief magistrate Usaia Ratuvili yesterday ruled in favour of Jagath Karunaratne's application for his bail to be reviewed. Just a day later, he has done a U-turn succumbing to challenge and pressure from the DPP.

Ratuvili (pictured right) ruled in the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday that Karunaratne's passport should be released to him so he can travel to Sri Lanka to attend to important family business, setting a $5000 cash bond and surety and a return date of July 20.

Coupfourpointfive police sources say in court today though, regime prosecutors continued to block the bail review, claiming Ratuvili erred in law in making the decision.

Fiji's Chief Magistrate has now suspended his own decision until the DPP gets an order from the High Court.

Dictator hides behind guns as Qarase fronts court

By Victor Lal
The political show trial of the former deposed but democratically elected Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is a stage-managed judicial theatre to coincide with the arrival of Yash Ghai the chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission into Fiji, and the electronic voter registration campaign that is in full swing even before the birth of a new constitution.

The judicial diary had been suddenly cleared for Qarase’s trial to convey the message that the dictator carried out the treasonous coup, on 5 December 2006, to stamp out corruption and abuse of office, as allegedly exemplified by Laisenia Qarase.

This is far from the truth. Perhaps a quick reminder would be in order. As Russell Hunter and I have written elsewhere, the $185,000 back pay army chief (thief) had called on his senior officers on three separate occasions to carry out a coup if his contract was not renewed for a further five years. They refused to go along with him saying they were not prepared to commit treason.

As one of the senior military officers, in his personal statement, told the Laisenia Qarase government:
“In my interview with [Bainimarama] he stated that he would forcefully remove the present government if his term as Comd RFMF was not renewed. I advised him that such an act was illegal and amounted to treason. I advised him that there are legal ways to settle his disagreement with government and that he must follow that legal path. Comd said that doing so would take too much time. He said that removing the government would be legally wrong but was morally correct.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Regime needs to register a lot more to meet target

Mere Vuniwaqa. pic FBC News
A blogger follows the first day of voter registration and does the maths on the aim to register 600,000 people in eight weeks.

Media reports today quoted Mere Vuniwaqa (Permanent Secretary for Justice and apparently the Acting Supervisor of Elections) under the regimes's Electoral Registration of Voters Decree (she is also the wife of the Director of Immigration, Major Nemani Vuniwaqa) as saying that 2,475 eligible voters were registered yesterday in the first day of the voter registration period as follows: Nausori 683, Levuka 176, Lautoka 236, Tavua 72, Suva Civic Centre 561, Fiji National University Samabula Campus 474 and Labasa 270.

In my view the above outcome is a very poor result, when compared to what I have calculated as needing to be achieved each day on average. I have calculated that on average they will need to register 11,500 eligible voters daily for 52 days in order to achieve their target of registering a total of 600,000 voters. My calculation is based on the assumption that registration will take place daily except Sundays over 12 hour shifts from the 3rd of July to the 31st of August 2012.

Voter with new ID card.
According to information that the regime has provided, it takes on average three minutes to complete a registration on one set of equipment. This implies an average of 20 registrations an hour, and 240 in a 12-hour shift for that one set of equipment working to full capacity and without any technical hiccups.

Accused tagger allowed to travel

Fiji authorities have been told to release the passport of Sri Lankan national Jagath Karunaratne to allow him to travel to his country of birth to attend to important family commitments.

His application for his bail to be reviewed was heard and approved today in the Suva Magistrates Court with the judge setting a $5000 cash bond and surety and a return date of July 20.

Regime prosecutors tried to block the bail review again and asked the court if they could hold the passport until it had lodged its appeal but Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili denied the request.

Karunaratne is one of five people charged with writing graffiti on billboards and public places and was detained in November last year under the Public Emergency Regulations.

He was kept in a condemned building after he was detained in what is believed to have been inhumane conditions and has battled to have the charges declared null and void and to have his passport released without success - until today.

His lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry, was recently advised, though, that prosecutors intend to lay fresh charges, that of conspiracy against government.

Air of optimism, but media censorship continues

By Professor Wadan Narsey

There is an air of optimism in Fiji as potential voters aged 18 and over begin to register, but the media censorship continues unabated, undermining basic human rights, hurting the economy and the Regime itself.

Even though there are no Regime censors in newsrooms, media censorship has now taken the far more invidious form of "self-censorship", driven by continuing public intimidation of journalists and media owners.

The media is not only dropping stories which the Regime may object to, but for more than a year it has also been refusing to take articles from anyone who they assess may be out of favour with the Regime, such as Yours Truly.

Television and radio media have been effectively banned from running interviews with such persons, depriving the public of independent professional opinions and commentaries, which can enlighten them on critical economic issues of public interest.

This continuing media censorship will undermine the Yash Ghai Commission whose work has the potential to return Fiji to normalcy and solid economic growth.

It does not help investor confidence or our environment, both areas where there is an urgent need for senior civil servants (whether military personnel or normal civil servants) to offer professionally independent advice to the Regime decision makers.

It is not helping the Regime's own track record as "custodians" of the economy and the land, while undermining a future Regime attempt to become a viable alternative political force to existing political parties.

The Regime urgently needs honest and independent media advice.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No tick yet for the regime

  Registering today in Suva. pic Fiji Live
The unelected government's voter registration campaign started today in Suva, Lautoka and Lamabasa - aiming to process 600,000 people in eight weeks.
But as the following  two contributing pieces from bloggers below rightly remind us, it has a long way to go convince all voters the talks to form a new Constitution and elections will be fair and ultimately in the interests of the people.
If the Bainimarama Government is serious about hosting Fiji’s first real democratic elections then it has to come clean on a number of issues.

-The Auditor General’s report must be published and made public
-The interim government must immediately cease harassing media outlets that it deems are not operating within the confines of the arbitrary
Media Decree
-All citizens must be allowed to voice their opinion on national issues regardless of whether they were former politicians, businessmen, religious leaders or the ordinary citizen
-Organisations wishing to hold meetings should be allowed to do so without fear or intimidation by security authorities
-Relatives of the interim government that gained positions in the civil service, statutory bodies or government-affiliated or state-owned enterprises must immediately step down in the interest of transparency and good governance
-The interim PM must declare specifically where and when funds from his flood appeal account were spent because reports by sources within
NGOs and aid organisations have revealed that many are still fighting to survive having lost not only their homes but also their only sources of livelihood
-The interim government must cease using preferred media outlets to disseminate information to the general public in the spirit of fairness, transparency and good governance. This only serves to restrict the flow of information to the public that need to be updated on issues pertinent to nation building
-The security forces should immediately cease acting as thugs and intimidators and refrain from harming, threatening or harassing any citizen at the whim of government officials. All citizens should feel safe, confident, free and part of a nation they call home without fear of reprisal.

Hapless presidents and fantasy TV

He is entrusted with rubber stamping the regime's illegal decrees but can't seem to handle himself on the streets of Suva.

The letter below is from the President's office to the Police and shows Epeli Nailatikau had a brush with a shoe shine boy recently.
Nailaitikau is known to wander the streets of Suva, often drunk, and it looks as though he may have been robbed.

The controversial TV decree gazetted almost two weeks ago by the treasonous Nailatikau, meanwhile, continues to hang over the head of Fiji TV.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Regime pushing on with Qarase and Karunaratne cases

Critical moment for deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase: the regime has called time on his Fijian Holdings trial in spite of a request for lenience to find appropriate legal representation.

Qarase is accused of facilitating and allowing the purchase of Class A FHL shares for certain companies when he was director of FHL, financial advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board and advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs.

He was originally represented by Qoriniasi Bale who has now said he will not represent Qarase, who will therefore need more time to find a Queens Counsel.

A preliminary hearing is being held today but the four-week trial officially starts tomorrow with Qarase to appear with a local lawyer.

Two Hong Kong based senior counsels are representing the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption, which has said it is reducing its number of witnesses and documents to allow 'a closer focus on the main issues'.

The Sri Lankan national accused of writing anti-Government graffiti in public places and on billboards is also expecting a major decision this week - that of his application for bail to be reviewed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Khaiyum's $22million bank loan to set up FBC TV

The Khaiyum brothers, Riyaz (left) and Aiyaz, with Frank Bainimarama at the FBC TV launch last year in November.

By Victor Lal

The declared aim of the 2006 treasonous coup included an end to nepotism, corruption, and misrule. At the time of the coup, military dictator Frank Bainimarama swore that no military officer would benefit from the coup – later proved to be a hollow sham. There was no mention of civilian coup beneficiaries.

One of the many civilians to come out of the woods was Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, one of the two authors of the Doctrine of Necessity document that he and Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz had prepared for the dictator long before the coup. Khaiyum became the new interim Attorney-General and later Minister for All Posts, including media and communications.

It was only a matter of time before others unmasked their coup faces. One of them was Riyaz Saiyad Khaiyum, the brother of Aiyaz. Long before his name was announced as the new CEO of the Fiji Broadcasting Commission, a journalist colleague of his on TVNZ’s Down Under had tipped me off that Riyaz was planning to return to Fiji for “top FBC job – nepotism bro!”, with me quipping, “I liked his style on Fiji TV Close Up”.

His NZ journo colleague retorted: “He will sacrifice all to become mouthpiece of the illegal lot, bro – his brother is getting him the FBC job”. He was stating the bleeding obvious that in the near future Riyaz would become his “brother’s news keeper”.

FBC Board in dark: Dictator appoints Riyaz Khaiyum as CEO
On 15 November Bainimarama, then Fiji’s interim Prime Minister announced the appointment of Riyaz as the new CEO of the radio station before informing the FBC Board. His permanent secretary Parmesh Chand claimed that Bainimarama made the appointment after he (dictator) reviewed the scrutiny and process that was followed by the FBC Board.