FIJI POLICE WANT AUSSIE CON MAN BACK

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 17) - Fiji police will attempt to have fugitive conman Peter Foster returned to the country to face a series of charges, including escaping from custody and fraud.

Director of Economic Crime, Senior Superintendent Ravi Narayan, said police were liaising with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the best way to bring the international fraudster back to stand trial.

Foster fled Fiji on January 5 aboard a boat that arrived off Port Vila in Vanuatu on January 8.

He had been under police and military guard awaiting trial on three charges relating to allegedly using a forged Queensland Police Service criminal history to obtain a work permit when he disappeared.

On January 14, Vanuatu police arrested him in a dawn raid after they surrounded the house where he had been staying. They had been tipped off by a gardener who saw him being brought ashore in a dinghy.

He is due to appear in court there today charged with being an illegal immigrant and faces the possibility of a large fine and deportation. There is uncertainty, however, as to which country he will be sent, although Vanuatu state prosecutor Alfred Bice has previously indicated it would most likely be Australia.

Mr. Bice was quoted as saying negotiations were under way to send the bail application and charges laid against Foster in Fiji to Vanuatu to be dealt with, but SSP Narayan yesterday denied this.

"We are trying our very best to bring him back but we have to look at some legal issues with the DPP before we can make any further statement," he said. "It is a jurisdictional issue and we have not made any contact with them. We have not been advised on their intentions and, like I have said, it is a jurisdictional issue that would need to be discussed with the DPP'S office before any step is taken."

Foster had claimed to be working undercover for the military, secretly videotaping conversations with former senior officials in the ruling party that proved the government was involved in vote-rigging and corruption.

Meanwhile, Musket Cove Island Resort has distanced itself on reports that the Retriever 1, which allegedly took Foster, was anchored half a mile from the resort before it left for Vanuatu.

General Manager Margaret Thaggard said no staff member of the resort was known as Patrick Wong.

"Musket Cove has always adhered to the immigration regulations and does not knowingly allow vessels of any kind to anchor or moor after clearing customs and immigration, unless it’s necessary to do so for safety reasons," Ms. Thaggard said.

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