Fiji rugby star claims former lawyers failed him in rape trial

Convicted rapist and former Fiji rugby sevens star Amenoni Nasilasila has accused his former lawyers of failing to represent him during his trial last year.

Nasilasila is appealing his eight-year sentence - he was jailed in September for the 2018 rape of a young woman.

In court on Tuesday, the Olympic gold medallist claimed his former defence team had failed to tender documents which included messages between him and the victim.

Nasilasila's new lawyer Mosese Naivalu also informed the court that his client and the victim had been in contact for 19 months.

The matter has been adjourned to 3 November when the trial counsels will respond to Nasilasila's claims.

The 26-year-old had been at the centre of public outrage in recent months following reports he was training with a top local rugby club.

In July, Nasilasila was reportedly seen training with the Namosi team in Suva.

Women's rights groups called for a stop to the preferential treatment of high-profile prisoners.

Shamima Ali, of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre, said the fact that Nasilasila's non-parole period was six years also highlighted the complete disregard by the department to allow him to participate in training with the Prisons and Namosi rugby teams.

"Barely eight months into his sentence, he can go and play club rugby publicly, and he's glorified by the prisons services and so on," she said.