FIJI JUDGE NIXES CHIEFLY REQUEST

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 1) – A Fijian judge has dismissed a request by a traditional chief accused in a 2000 mutiny that he be tried before other chiefs.

Judge Anthony Gates rejected Ratu Inoke Takiveikata's assertion that he will be denied a fair trial if common Fijians hear the mutiny charges against him.

The judge ruled that the customary laws defined in the Fiji constitution concern only native issues, such as boundary or fishery disputes.

Judge Gates says the case is purely criminal and one where everyone is deemed equal before the law.

He also dismissed claims by Ratu Inoke that it would be insulting and embarrassing to be tried before commoners.

Ratu Inoke, who holds the chiefly title of Qaranivalu, faces five charges relating to the mutiny at the Fiji army headquarters in November 2000.

November 2, 2004

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

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