Ousted Fiji PM appealing High Court dismissal of 2006 coup challenge

Ousted Fiji PM appealing High Court dismissal of 2006 coup challenge

[JURIST] Former Fijian prime minister Laisenia Qarase [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said Wednesday that he will seek an appeal of an October decision by the Fijian High Court dismissing his challenge [JURIST report] to the country's 2006 coup. In its decision [text, PDF], the High Court held that Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo [official profile] had the authority to name new leaders after Qarase was ousted by the Fijian military. Qarase originally brought suit [JURIST report] against the government in October 2007, saying that the military coup [JURIST report] was illegal because it had supplanted his democratically elected government. Rejecting Qarase's argument, the court held that Iloilo had acted within the country's constitution [text], characterizing his naming of a new prime minister as an allowable retention of authority until a new prime minister could be elected. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Qarase also called for independent international judges to hear his appeal [ABC report]. AP has more.

In September, Qarase made additional charges that current prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama [BBC profile] and others who participated in the December 2006 military coup [JURIST news archive] had committed treason [Fiji Daily Post report] by ousting Qarase's democratically elected government. Later that month, Qarase tried to make a statement [JURIST report] to police regarding the allegations, but they said they would not investigate the charges. Less than two days after December's coup, a previous interim prime minister installed by the military characterized the coup as "illegal" [JURIST report], but defended it as necessary. Qarase's case was heard by a three-judge panel led by Acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates, who was appointed [press release] after Bainimarama suspended former Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki [JURIST report].