FIJI CITIZENS CONSTITUTIONAL FORUM GIVES JUSTICE FATIAKI TWO OPTIONS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 15, 2001 – FijiLive)---The drama continued in the High Court today when Citizens Constitutional Forum lawyer Sir Vijay Singh gave Justice Daniel Fatiaki two options: disqualify himself from hearing its case against the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, or have the case heard in the Fiji Court of Appeal.

Justice Fatiaki, in return, asked the CCF to consider withdrawing its demand for him to step down.

But Sir Vijay submitted that he would not waive the CCF’s right to question Justice Fatiaki, saying affidavits filed by two judges raise doubts about his impartiality.

Yesterday, the CCF had submitted affidavits from Justice John Byrnes and Justice Nazhat Shameem in support of its case that Justice Fatiaki step down.

In his affidavit, Justice Byrnes revealed the circumstances leading to advice given to former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara on the dismissal of the then Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

He said various meetings were called by the Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, to discuss advice to be given to Mara before Justices Fatiaki and Michael Scott allegedly personally delivered the advice to Mara’s office.

He says he agreed to the affidavit to avoid being subpoenaed.

"I realize that the practice over a long period of time that matters discussed by judges relating to their work are considered by convention to be private and privileged," Justice Byrnes said.

"My reason for agreeing to swear to this affidavit is that I have been informed by Sir Vijay and verily believe that the presiding judge in this case, Justice Fatiaki, has called upon the applicants to prove the extent of the knowledge and involvement of the judges in these events and has not to date disclosed them himself."

He says fellow judges Shameem, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, Devendra Pathik and Anthony Gates planned to write a letter to the Fiji Law Society dissociating themselves from the Judicature Decree and committing themselves to the 1997 Constitution.

He says Justice Fatiaki helped prepare a media statement for the Chief Justice and options for the President that included the dismissal of the Prime Minister between May 19 and June 13 last year.

Sir Vijay submitted that Justice Fatiaki’s alleged involvement in the formulation of the advice indicated the pre-determination of his views on the 1997 Constitution and there was a likelihood of a similar decision in this case.

The CCF is taking Iloilo to court, saying his decision to install the interim administration as the caretaker government after the Fiji Court of Appeal ruled that the 1997 Constitution was valid, was wrong.

It says Iloilo should have recalled the last Parliament and let it form a new government.

The case has been adjourned to tomorrow.

For additional reports from FijiLive, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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