FIJI HIGH COURT DISMISSES COUP CASE

President acted lawfully in appointing military government

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 9, 2008)--The much-awaited ruling on the case by ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase against the interim regime and the State was today dismissed by the Suva High Court.

Acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates, while delivering the ruling moments ago, said the decision by His Excellence, the President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu to appoint an interim government post military takeover was valid.

Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party leader, Mr Qarase had questioned the legality of the interim regime, the military takeover and the Presidents powers post-coup in 2006.

Justice Gates, apologising for the delay in delivering the judgment, said: "We regret that the decision took some time but the law must be upheld."

The judgment by the panel of judges - Justice Gates, John Byrnes and Divendra Pathik - found that the President's actions during the period in question were lawful and valid.

"No one has suggested His Excellence failed to act honestly, impartially, neutrally and what he gauged was in the best interest of the nation; that is, of all of the inhabitants of Fiji it is not for this court to inquire into the details of his act at that moment on whether one action would have been better done in another way but it is certainly open to conclude his intention were to unify the people of Fiji," Justice Gates said while delivering the judgement.

It is also understood that several other legal actions, either before the court or yet to be filed, were pending on today's High Court decision.

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