30 Oct 2002

Verdict on Fiji mutineers expected later today

12:35 pm on 30 October 2002

The verdict in the court martial of 15 Fiji army soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny is scheduled to be delivered today.

The seven senior military officers who presided over the court martial over more than 12 months were earlier provided with a legal summing up of the trial by the judge advocate, Justice Sadal.

Justice Sadal said the accused had, by their own admission, known of and participated in the mutiny which resulted in 8 deaths and more than 30 injuries.

He said the leader of the mutineers, Captain Shane Stevens, had confirmed that he had prior meetings with government senator and Naitasiri paramount chief, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, to plan the mutiny.

Steven's actions were premeditated and he had admitted that Ratu Takiveikata had supplied his soldiers with mobile phones and masking tape.

Justice Sadal pointed out that the accused all knew that following orders which were unlawful was wrong.

He said it would appear that Stevens, on his own admission, was engaged in a joint criminal enterprise with others, the object of which was to overthrow the lawful authority of the military.

Some of the men charged with the mutiny were the same troops who carried out the May 2000 coup, overthrowing the Chaudhry-led coalition and holding its members hostage for 56 days.