4 Nov 2002

Fiji peacekeepers seek mutineers' release

1:44 pm on 4 November 2002

The Fiji Peacekeeping Association has called for the release of 15 soldiers court martialled for the November 2000 mutiny in which eight soldiers were killed.

The call comes just ahead of a verdict due on Wednesday after a trial lasting 14 months.

In a statement, the Peacekeepers Association says it is concerned that the court martial judge advocate, Justice Sadal's summing up of the case was unfair and one-sided.

Justice Sadal told the military tribunal at the end of the court martial that the accused had by their own admission participated in the mutiny when they knew that it was wrong to follow unlawful orders.

The judge said the actions of the leader of the mutineers, Captain Shane Stevens, were premeditated and he had confirmed that he had prior meetings with government senators and Naitasiri paramount chief, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, to plan the mutiny.

The Peacekeepers Association says the army should release all the soldiers tried or still being detained for the mutiny and reconcile with them.

It says the court martial was a waste of money and the army should stop having negative thoughts about the soldiers and instead build faith in them.