Plot Updates, Ballu Khan, EU Talks, Methodists, Women's Rights, Wages, Poverty, Commonwealth

Short Briefs
Photo: Williams and Khan. Solomon Times.
NZ lawyer slams Fiji trial. Peter Williams QC is arguably New Zealand's best known and most respected criminal lawyer. His link to Fiji is his success in obtaining a permanent stay of prosecution for Ballu Khan, an acquittal that now looks of doubtful justice. The QC is questioning the validity of the court process in the Assassination plot case:

"I think the international press should make some inquiries into the validity of the trial and how the panel was put together and who appointed the judge and who appointed the assessors ... And whether or not those appointments were made by the military and if so wasn't the military one of the main participants in the trial itself; one of the parties ... All the evidence came from the military, the victims are supposed to be military so it would be a very interesting exercise if somebody - a journalist - was prepared to dig in and have a look at those lines of inquiry."

The remarks suggest he was caught on the hop by a journalists' phone call. They lacked the precision and care of a considered response: his "panel" and "assessors" are one and the same; he seemed not to know that all judges since the Abrogation of the Constitution last June are appointed by the Attorney-General's office (and all lawyers have  their licences renewed by the same office); the military, so far as we can know, had no involvement in the selection of judges or assessors; the asssessors were routinely selected from a list of 160; those selected were agreed to by both prosecution and defence lawyers; most (not all) of the evidence came from the military, as might be expected in this particular case; the original charge included two civilian intended victims and one who escaped being charged was his former client Ballu Khan . [See previous post on assessor selection procedures.]

Ballu Khan. Police are now analyzing the High Court judgment and sentencing of the eight men convicted of conspiracy to murder PM Bainimarama before deciding on the steps, in any, should be taken in relation to businessman Ballu Khan whose name was mentioned in court a number of times during the course of the trial.

Justice Paul Madigan said he had "no doubt" that the plot was hatched by, orchestrated by, and directed by Ballu Khan, probably in concert with his business partner Ratu Inoke Takiveikata.

Khan had been initially charged as one of the conspirators but High Court Judge Justice Andrew Bruce granted him a permanent stay on all proceedings because his personal rights and his rights to a legal counsel were breached by the police and the RFMF and that he was unlawfully  and unconstitutionally detained for a substantial period of time after his arrests.

Fiji-EU talks to iron out political landscape. A new bilateral agreement between Fiji and the European Union has been drafted under the Cotonou Protocol to take into account Fiji’s current political situation.The draft agreement will be discussed in a series of meeting expected to start in Suva later this week.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Solo Mara says the new agreement is aimed at replacing the current agreement that was enacted in 2007.The EU have stopped all aid to Fiji following the 2006 coup but have now agreed to hold substantial dialogue with Fiji. The multi million dollar sugar aid package that is being withheld by the EU will also be part of the agenda.

Methodists grievances. The Methodist Church has invited PM Bainimarama to speak at its three-day meeting from March 22-24 so that he may hear their grievances. The invitation was sent after permission was granted to the church to conduct the three-day meeting for its senior superintendents and stewards.

Methodists charged. Eighteen Methodist Church in Fiji ministers who have been charged with breaching Public Emergency Regulations.The group were part of a church standing committee meeting that allegedly breached their permit to conduct a meeting in July last year.

Women's rights improving. In opening the national celebrations to mark International Womens' Day in Suva yesterday, Acting Minister for Women Dr Neil Sharma  said Fiji has made a lot of headway towards ensuring equal opportunities for women. There are more than 300 women members of Hospital Boards and they’re also represented in all spheres of the civil service; new laws, including include the Domestic Violence Decree and the Employment Relations Promulgation, will further protect women and enhance their status in society, and 90%  of the 24,000 beneficiaries of the Small and Micro Finance Scheme are women. Government also intends to address the future representation of women in Parliament.

Wages and Poverty. Wages Council Chairman Father Kevin Bar says over 40% of the population are poor and the wage rate has become a major concern requiring immediate steps to be taken. Many can't afford to send their children to school or afford decent housing and they live in squatter settlements. Many can't afford proper health care or good nutritous food. "And so is it any wonder when we learn that although they are in full time employment, 60% of our workers are earning below the poverty line. There is a strong connection between that statistic 60%  and the 40% living in poverty.”

Commonwealth Day was celebrated in Fiji yesterday, despite its suspension from the Commonwealth.  If it was also celebrated in NZ, I must have missed it.


Jon said…
Apart from the obvious (being Justice Madigan's 'lack of doubt' that Mr Khan was involved in the conspiracy) is there any other reason that you feel Justice Bruce's permanent stay of proceedings against Mr Khan is 'of doubtful justice'?
Corruption Fighter said…
Frank Bainimarama's real plan for Fiji

Opponents of Bainimarama fall into a couple of very different camps, while his supporters fall into just two, one of them at Delainabua.

Some of Bainimarama's opponents are Fijian Nationalists of various shades. Others, like Professor Brij Lai and Richard Naidu are consistent opponents of all coups in Fiji. I'm coming from somewhere else.

My problem is that I just can't take Bainimarama seriously. He looks like a third world dictator, he sounds like one and he behaves like one.

Like most people from Fiji living overseas I was taken by surprise by the Speight coup. I cringed in embarrassment at the sight of the shaved head mouthing all his arrogant demands at the TV cameras, like he had some charter from God. Suddenly I felt need to tell people I came from Mauritius.

But Bainimarama has the same effect on me. What an embarrassment! But worst of all I seem to recall that he was as much a part of what happened in 2000 as George Speight or Ilisoni Ligairi.

The evidence is all there. He was as involved as all the others. He wasn't any white knight riding to rescue. He wanted to be Interim PM himself but he couldn't find any politicians who were prepared to support him. The thought of restoring Chaudhry to the office he occupied lawfully at no point crossed his mind. Ratu Mara had to go because he might have wanted to take the reins himself and would have kept Bainimarama in his place.

But the real link to Bainimarama's role in what happened in 2000 is Isikia Savua. Bainimarama and Savua met at the National Security Council on 12 May 2000, just before the coup. The rumours that there would be a coup were circulating then. Despite this Frank took off for Norway and Savua went on a tour of Lomaiviti.

A week ago I asked readers of this blogsite who have in faith in Bainimarama's commitment to removing race from politics in Fiji to explain why they are not suspicious of his relationship to Isikia Savua. Mahendra Chaudhry said that when he was being held captive, Ilisoni Ligairi told him that Savua was involved in the coup.

Ratu Mara believed to the end of his days that Savua was one of the coup plotters. His daughter named him in Parliament (with the safety of parliamentary privilege). The story was that he was supposed to turn up to be appointed Interim PM but got cold feet at the last moment. But he didn't try to stop the coup. Protecting the lawfully elected government was far from his mind. The police did nothing but stand around and watch the marches despite the circulating rumours of a coup.

Savua, on his way back from Lomaiviti, decided at the last minute that it would be better to wait and see what happened and then try to see how his interests could be served as things unfolded. This was Bainimarama's strategy.

Savua was investigated by the police who couldn't get the hard evidence to nail him but that didn't mean a thing to Bainimarama. He continued to have an enemies list which mysteriously didn't include isikia Savua. In fact he even tried to appoint him to the gravy train of the NCBBF and only backed down when the outcry threatened to expose his cosy relationship with Savua.

Frank Bainimarama has no other plan than maintaining his hold on power. Every day he stays in power he tightens his grip. He has limited intelligence but he's good at reading his opponents and exploiting their weaknesses.

In 2000 Bainimarama installed Laisenia Qarase as interim PM and tried to abrogate the constitution. He endorsed Qarase's plan for affirmative action for Fijians and supported him in the 2001 elections. In 2006 he overthrew Qarase in the name of a vision of race-free Fiji he claims to have had all along.

Don't believe it. Mahendra Chaudhry has found this out the hard way. Eventually it will be clear for all to see but the danger is that by then he will have a grip on power so tight it will be almost impossible to remove him.
joe said…
I agree with QC Williams that international media should get involved in uncovering facts about the alleged shonky trial. Not only that, they should also hone in on how the taliban terrorist ballu got away. AFAIK, the Fijian authorities honoured justice Bruce's judgement and let ballu go, otherwise, what would have stopped the military that overthrew the govt and constitution from hanging on to ballu despite a suspicious judgement. This QC ought to know that the assessors were accepted by the defence team. I think the best scenario would be a retrial with ballu in the docks alongside the other 8, with ballu's physical safety guaranteed during the course of the trial. Anything less than that is to be seen as perverting the course of justice by whoever that tries to prevent ballu from being brought to Fiji to face the music.
White Frangipani said…
I guess you could say that Peter Williams Q.C. is arguably New Zealand's best known and most respected criminal lawyer, but something has always bugged me about Peter Williams Q.C., so much so that I can not use the word “respect” to describe how I have felt about him all these years. Last year when I watched a TV series about the 1970 Mr Asia - Terry Clark NZ/Oz drug syndicate, I remembered why he has bugged me since the 1970's. Back then, during the NZ court case, Peter Williams Q.C. defended the crooks who ran the Mr Asia drug syndicate. If found guilty the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate - Terry Clark court case could well have been the end of the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate, but somehow Terry Clark's lawyer, Peter Williams Q.C. got him aquitted ............ and so the UK drug market was the next Mr Asia target. (See excerpt below)

I wonder - will Peter Williams Q.C. also say that Ballu Khan is “just another client”.

Sex, drugs and murder - The truth about Mr Asia:
".............In June 1978 he was arrested in Brisbane and two weeks later extradited to New Zealand to face charges of heroin importing. It could well have been the end, but Clark's lawyer, Peter Williams, got him acquitted.

Mr Williams and colleague Eb Leary did well out of The Organisation. They were regularly called upon to defend members of the syndicate.

Mr Williams told The Dominion Post that Clark had been "just another client".

"I acted for him, as you do. I think he could be reasonably affable but obviously he was drawn to what you might call the dark side, and that was his undoing of course.

"At the time, anything to do with drugs, particularly heroin, was very emotional in New Zealand. And there was always the fact that certain people make a lot of money out of drugs.

"That aggravated the situation - people don't like criminals making a lot of money. These were unusual, heady times. It was so overt................."
Proud Fijian said…
@ Corruption Fighter

Conspiracy theorists abound trying to explain that the CIA caused the collapse of the Twin Towers with preimplanted explosives.

Your rhetoric is pretty much the same.

In contrast White Frangipani provides references for his statements regarding Peter Williams Q.C
Anonymous said…
If you are going down that track look up Justice Paul Madigans early days as a lawyer and a few of his cases didn't smell of roses either. Google him.

Habakuk said…
@ White Frangipani

Talk about off the topic. I don't really care if you respect Williams QC or not.

If you think if has been guilty of a criminal offence, then you can report him to Police.

Croz. There was some pretty serious and libellous inferences in White Frangipani's comments.

To attack a man for doing his job well is downright ludicrous and unnecessary. In the matter of Terry Clarke, there was obviously major deficiencies in the prosecution case. If the Police had a strong case and did their job properly and honestly, then Clarke would have been found guilty.

Stop slandering a man who is highly regarded in his profession and a man who has no criminal convictions.

There is a little thing for barristers (not solicitors) called the cab rank rule. There are limited reasons for refusing to represent someone. If the barrister is not booked for the time the (solicitor) client wants (the instructing solicitor is the barristers client , not the accused), then they must act for that client. NO CHOICE.

AND defence lawyers cop it all the time. They are trying to assure that the accused gets a fair trial. Sure there are some dodgy defence lawyers but the most are brave and have to deal with unjustifiable attackes from half-wits who have no idea what they do.

Hey Frangipani, I hope you don't get falsely accused of something nasty. You may need a defence lawyer. Then you will be banging down the doors of lawyers with successful track records.

Proud Fijian, where are these "refernces" in WF's comments. You attack Corruption Fighter, then do the same thing.

I hope the commander knows if he does his job well. people like you will attack, no doubt. Stay on topic in future. Your comments are not appreciated or useful re: Williams QC. He has done nothing wrong and he has copped the attacks for doing his job properly. WF and PF, I have enjoyed your comments until now.
Proud fijian said…

My comment was not as to whether Williams QC was right or wrong. My comment was made to CF's long rhetoric which was mainly a conspiracy theory.

However WF's comment about Williams QC had a reference in terms of

My point was CFs rhetoric was all theory but Williams QC had definitely defended the MR Asian Syndicate.
White Frangipani said…
@ Habakuk - I think you are being a bit defensive here. Sorry that you didn't like what I said. I gave my opinion which quite rightly you do not have to agree with. I have not accused Peter Williams Q.C. of anything - merely said that something has always bugged me about him (like when you might be bugged by someone) and the TV programme about the Mr Asia Drug trial reminded me why. I am allowed my opinion - just as you are. Peter Williams Q.C. is a very good defence lawyer and was very good back in the 1970's during the Terry Clark drug trial and the defence of Terry Clarke was successful. In the end after the UK murder and drug trial it was proven Terry Clarke was in reality a cruel, cold hearted and murderous crook - that is fact. It is also fact that if the prosecution had been successful in the first trial Terry Clarke would not have been able to continue his murderous drug empire in the UK. This is well known publicised information but I can't remember what factors successfully acquitted Terry Clarke in his NZ drug trial when Peter Williams Q.C. was his lawyer. The programme was a doco drama based on actual events and court evidence. Maybe read through the reference I posted and you will see that all I said is public knowledge or just Google about Terry Clarke and his lover Karen Soich, who before she became Terry Clarke's lover was a young lawyer working for Peter Williams Q.C. I suppose some might say that this is off the subject but the same lawyer is involved and I have merely made comment on this fact. One thing is for sure, sometimes it must be personally challenging being a defense lawyer.
Habakuk said…
@ White Frangipani

Thanks for your response. I get similar "vibes" about certain people myself and I suppose I am reluctant to express them. I concede that I am somewhat defensive on that particular subject.

I agree with Croz that williams was caught on the back foot. Unless he had proof that there was something untoward about the empanelling of the assessors he should have made no comment at all. But like you and I, he wants to have his say. However, calling for investigation by the international media is absurd.

This blogsite continually highlights the inept reporting of some major media outlets. As with lawyers, 99% of journalists give the other 1% a bad name.

Australia and NZ will keep on pointing out the splinter in Fiji's eye and ignore the log in their own.

Lets see what appeal points are raised. This episode is not over yet.
MJ said…
Pete Williams has made some critical remarks about the recent trial and I think it is fair for White Frangipani to comment on the person so that any vested interest can be shown. Ballu Khan is/was his client, so for him to make these type of remarks would be expected and can be taken with a grain of salt. It is his job to make Khan appear more innocent, just as he has done in the past. While he is respected as a defence lawer, for an impartial comment on this subject we should look elsewhere.

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