FIJI GOVERNMENT DENOUNCES RULING ON QARASE

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 11) – The order by acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates that allows deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to come to Suva "sets Qarase above the law" says Fiji’s Attorney General’s Office.

There are suggestions from the AG’s Office that Justice Gate’s order will prevent the Fiji police from proceeding on with the investigations to Qarase’s calls to Australia and New Zealand for foreign intervention on the eve of the coup, that the authorities say was treasonous.

Justice Gates had earlier today ordered that the State "refrain from preventing, obstructing or interfering with Qarase from travelling to and residing in Fiji."

Qarase, who has been living in exile in his Lau island village for six months, has been prevented by the Public Emergency Regulations to enter the mainland or to actively participate in his litigation contesting the overthrow of his government by the military.

State lawyer Chris Pryde said Justice Gates order was unnecessary as the emergency regulations were lifted and the state had "no problem with Mr Qarase coming to Suva or anywhere in Fiji. Since June 2007, there have been no restrictions whatsoever on anybody living in Fiji including Mr Qarase who is in the same position as any other person living in Fiji and as such, subject to the same laws and freedoms," he said. "The effect of the order made by Justice Gates will be to hinder the State from functioning properly by preventing the police from carrying out their duties."

He said the order allows Qarase "to be set above the law and as such sets a dangerous precedent."

"No person should be above the law and the police should be free to act as they see fit without interference from the courts," Pryde said.

He added that the AG’s office would now be appealing the order and "seek to overturn a decision that is wrong in law and that sets a dangerous precedent for the future."

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