Tui Labasa title ruling on May 15

Newly installed Tui Labasa Ratu Jone Qomate, right, drinks the traditional installation cup as the Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katoniverelooks on at the ceremony. Picture LUKE RAWALAI/FILE

THE iTaukei Lands and Appeals Tribunal ended a three-day hearing recently after a challenge against the Tui Labasa title was lodged within the 90-day appeal period set by the Native Lands Commission.

Tribunal chairman Aminiasi Katonivualiku said the Native Lands Commission’s earlier decision to give the title to Ratu Jone Qomate was challenged by Ratu Kiniviliame Waqanitoga from the Wasavulu clan.

After hearing the closing submission of the two factions on April 25, Mr Katonivualiku said the tribunal would analyse information it received before making a decision on May 15.

The tribunal began the hearing after the appellant, Ratu Kiniviliame, issued a copy of his submissions to Ratu Jone to allow him time to respond to the claims made against him and to represent himself before the tribunal.

“Therefore we had to adjourn the sitting early to allow the other faction time to photocopy their submissions and distribute them.

“Once this was done we could then cross examine both parties.

“Ratu Kiniviliame and his spokesperson Ratu Maikali Drauna were both cross examined during the hearing while Ratu Jone was asked to defend himself against their claims.”

Mr Katonivualiku said by law the iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission had given the Tui Labasa title to Ratu Jone Qomate, adding that those opposing this decision were given 90 days to appeal.

“The decision of the appeals tribunal is final and cannot be challenged in any court of law,” he said.

Meanwhile, there were a few heated exchanges during the hearing as Ratu Maikali presented his faction’s submissions articulating their claims as rightful holders of the chiefly title.

At one point Ratu Maikali was asked by Mr Katonivualiku to clarify his claim regarding the title being influenced by external factors.

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