Fiji judges re-appointed

May 23rd, 2009 - 11:30 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, May 23 (DPA) Fiji’s Chief Justice, Briton Anthony Gates, who ruled last year that the military’s seizure of power in a bloodless coup in December 2006 was legal, has been re-appointed, it was reported from the capital Suva on Saturday.
President Josefa Iloilo sacked all the country’s judges and abolished the constitution on April 10 after the Court of Appeal overturned Gates’ ruling and declared the regime headed by military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama illegal.

The ailing 88-year-old president, who supports Bainimarama, re-appointed Gates and fellow High Court judges Davendra Pathik and Daniel Gounder Friday and swore in Sosefo Inoke as a new judge.

Pathik was on the bench with Gates in the three-judge panel that rejected claims by former prime minister Laisenia Qarase that he had been illegally ousted by Bainimarama.

New Zealand and Australian lawyers have frequently served as judges in Fiji, and the New Zealand Law Society’s president John Marshall urged them last month not to work for the military regime.

Gates defended his decision to accept re-appointment, the Fiji Daily Post said Saturday, quoting him as saying, “There is no doubt that the judiciary must continue.

“Without the judges there will be no court and therefore no remedies will be available for clients and no justice for the victims of serious crimes,” he said.

Fiji is being governed under emergency regulations which censor the media and ban political meetings.

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