Fiji's military commander suspends top judges | india | Hindustan Times
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Fiji's military commander suspends top judges

india Updated: Jan 03, 2007 13:02 IST

Fiji's military regime on Wednesday suspended the country's chief judge and chief magistrate pending an investigation into alleged judicial corruption.

Military strongman Commodore Frank Bainimarama placed the country's Chief Judge Daniel Fatiaki and Chief Magistrate Naomi Matanipobua on indefinite leave, pending an official inquiry.

"Following the involvement of certain members of the judiciary in questionable activities ... and numerous complaints that we have received of corruption, irregularities and gross inefficiencies in the judicial system, the chief judge has been sent on leave on full pay until further notice," Bainimarama told reporters in the capital, Suva. He did not elaborate.

The military chief said the absence of both judges was needed to complete "a full proper and unrestricted inquiry into the judiciary."

High Court Judges John Connors and Anthony Gates will handle Fatiaki's caseload, Bainimarama said.

Wednesday's court shake up is the latest in a string of high-level replacements since Bainimarama overthrew the democratically elected government on December 5, disbanding the Cabinet and banishing Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to his home island 302 kilometres north of the capital, Suva.

He also suspended Parliament and dismissed the president and vice president — naming himself as president and advertising in newspapers for candidates to join an interim government.