‘Nauru 19’ fail to have judge stand aside over bias concern

Picture: FILE

YAREN, 06 DECEMBER 2019 (RNZ PACIFIC) — A verdict in a controversial court case in Nauru is expected late this week or early next week.

Closing arguments in the trial of a group of anti-government protesters who became known as the ‘Nauru 19’, ended on Wednesday.

The Nauru 19 was accused of rioting, unlawful assembly, obstructing police and other charges during a protest outside Parliament four and a half years ago.

Last year, they were granted a permanent stay on the charges when the Australian judge brought in by the Nauru Government to hear the case, said they could never get a fair trial given the government’s interference in the judicial process.

That stay was overturned and another judge, Fiji’s Daniel Fatiaki, was appointed.

The Nauru 19’s closing statement was made by former justice minister, Mathew Batsiua.

He told the court they could not make a proper answer to the charges because the judge had denied them legal representation, meaning they could not challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution.

Batsiua called for Justice Fatiaki to disqualify himself because of what he said was the bias he had in favour of the prosecution.

Justice Fatiaki dismissed this call and now the Nauru 19 waits to hear its fate.

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