COURT DEFIES BAINIMARAMA, REINSTATES OFFICIAL

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 17) - Suspended Sugar Cane Growers Council chief executive Jagannath Sami has been reinstated by the Fiji High Court.

Justice John Connors issued an interim order to that effect and ordered the military not to interfere or stop Mr. Sami.

That came after Sami filed affidavits challenging his suspension on December 27 by military commander and Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Bainimarama suspended Sami and council chairman Mr. Vijendra Autar for alleged corruption and abuse of funds.

In addition, Bainimarama sacked eight government nominated councilors.

Sami said when he returned to work at 2 p.m. yesterday after the ruling; senior staff members told him they received threatening calls from the military not to allow him back into the office.

Taking into consideration the safety of his staff and himself Sami decided to return home.

He said since he obtained a court order, he would report for work at 8 a.m. today. "I will go to work at 8 a.m. If I am stopped by soldiers, then we will know where we stand," he said.

Sami said he was unaware of a promulgation signed by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo on Tuesday afternoon that terminated his contract as the council's chief executive.

Sami's lawyer Mr. Shalend Krishna said the concerned parties would be served with all notices before the case was recalled on January 23.

Krishna said the ruling yesterday was an interim order.

On Monday, Sami filed affidavits claiming Bainimarama had wrongly suspended him.

Justice Connors yesterday issued an interim order for Sami to resume as chief executive officer as specified under the Sugar Industry Act.

Justice John Connors said Sami should resume work without military intervention.

He said Sami was to continue his work until the matter was recalled before him next Tuesday.

He ordered that no military personnel were to threaten, annoy or harass Sami, his family and council staff.

Connors ruled the orders issued yesterday were to be served on the military by midday today.

Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni refused to comment, saying the military would release a statement later.

Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said while Sami had received orders during the ex-parte hearing for him to resume his duties as chief executive officer, the learned judge, Justice Connors was unaware of a promulgation signed by the President on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Khaiyum said at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Ratu Josefa upon the advice of cabinet signed a promulgation terminating Sami as the council chief executive officer.

He also said his office was yet to be served with any of the orders handed down by Justice Connors.

However, he said if served his office would honor the orders and would make full submissions and inform the judge formally of the full situation.

Anare Tuilevuka from the Attorney General's Office appeared for the State.

Following the announcement by Commodore Bainimarama on December 27, Sami continued to report to work as chief executive officer.

Sami said he had never been served with an official notice of suspension.

On January 2, two armed soldiers forcefully removed Sami from office.

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