Jailed Gay Sex Pair Bailed in Fiji
Australian, April 12, 2005
By Peter Williams in Auckland
AN Australian tourist and a Fijian
man jailed for homosexual acts in Fiji were freed on bail today after
appealing their convictions.
The Lautoka High Court granted bail to Thomas Maxwell
McCoskar and Dhirendra Nadan, who were given two-year prison sentences last
week in a judgment criticised by human rights groups.
Lawyers for the pair, who were unrepresented at their
trial, argue their convictions are unconstitutional and the judge who made
them was prejudiced.
In sentencing McCoskar, 55, and Nadan, 23, last week,
Nadi magistrate Syed Muhktar Shah described their having sex together as
“shameful” and “disgusting”.
McCoskar, 55, a retired teacher from Victoria,
surrendered his passport as part of the bail conditions and faced an eight- to
10-week legal process in Fiji, his lawyer Iqbal Khan said.
Iqbal said Fiji’s 1998 Constitution outlawing
discrimination based on sexual orientation and enshrining a right to privacy
overrode the country’s law against gay sex, which carries a maximum 14-year
“Without any doubt there has been a miscarriage of
justice, in my opinion, by virtue of the Fiji Constitution and international
human rights conventions,” he said.
“The police should not have charged him.”
The lawyer said the Nadi magistrate’s comments were not
relevant to charges against the pair and would form part of the appeal.
“His comments show that he was prejudiced in sentencing
the men and giving a harsher punishment,” he said.
The magistrates court heard last week that McCoskar met
Nadan while on holiday in Nadi over Easter and offered to pay him for sex and
taking nude pictures that McCoskar planned to post on the internet.
The pair were charged after McCoskar complained to police
on April 3 that Nadan had stolen $F1,500 from him.
Iqbal said McCoskar’s mood had improved greatly after
“He was really upset and he was disillusioned but today
his face changes, he looks happy.”
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