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Date Posted: 01:06:48 06/20/05 Mon
Author: Ranjit Singh
Subject: Media responsibility, Reconciliation Bill in Fiji

Open letter to the NZ Herald, 18/6/5:

Dear Editor,

The fact that you haven't published my letter on Fiji's reconciliation bill and NZ media responsibility is understandable, because it puts The Dominion in a better picture than your news organisation.However, today I wish to draw your attention to the Fiji Times story (below-Saturday 18th) where Prime Minister of Fiji is alleged to have cancelled the contract of a no -nonsense expatriate Australian lawyer, who was Fiji's Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. You had run an earlier article by Gregory Allen, who was also a once Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in Fiji, about how things are going wrong in Fiji. The circus continues. Now Fiji's PM has gone power mad and sent packing somebody who Fiji relied upon to deliver justice without fear or favour.

My purpose in writing to you and other Kiwi media organisation is to let you know that a Zimbabwe is taking shape at the door steps of New Zealand while NZ media has maintained a deafening silence about all this. I hope collectively we can push Helen Clark and Phil Goff to wake up before Fiji heads into anarchy. It is also alleged that Fiji's PM Qarase is going to appoint his cousin, Editor of Fiji's Daily Post, Mesake Koroi, as a Senator to replace Late Dr. Ahmad Ali and then appoint him Minister of Information. All this just 15 months before a general election in Fiji.

Welcome to a developing Africa at the doorsteps of New Zealand while its fourth estate takes a deep slumber.

It is still not too late for you to wake up and do something, at least publicise it and prick the conscience of NZ Government to take a more positive action.

Thakur Ranjit Singh
Human Rights Activist
021 235 4559

State kicks lawyer out
(Saturday, June 18, 2005)

GOVERNMENT has cancelled the contract of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Peter Ridgway, who was asked to quit the country in unexplained circumstances, media reports said.

Yesterday AAP reported Mr Ridgeway had finished his term as deputy DPP and had returned to Australia but had agreed to return temporarily to Fiji to help out on a number of other cases before the court.

The Australian news agency quoted local legal sources as saying Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase cancelled Mr Ridgway's contract and gave him two weeks to leave Fiji.

Mr Qarase is in Lau and was not available for comments.

Attorney-General Qoriniasi Bale was unavailable for comment as well.

Mr Ridgway had won convictions for treason against key figures in Fiji's 2000 coup. He was working in Fiji under an Australian aid-funded project to speed up the justice system in the wake of the George Speight-led coup that bought down the Mahendra Chaudhry Government in 2000.

He played a supporting role in the case in which Speight pleaded guilty to treason.

And Mr Ridgway prosecuted the treason trials of Timoci Silatolu and journalist Josefa Nata who were convicted and jailed for life.

The Government's Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill is believed to have the effect of legalising treason and freeing Speight and others if passes.

It will halt all cases and investigations into the coup.

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