27 Nov 2002

Fiji treason trial hears links between coup and Suva march

11:52 am on 27 November 2002

In the treason trial in Fiji, the deposed prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, is scheduled to give his evidence this week.

Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata are now on trial after the Court of Appeal rejected an application by Timoci Silatolu's lawyer for a stay in his treason trial.

The deputy director of public prosecutions, Peter Ridgeway, says a television archivist will be the first witness.

He says the deposed prime minister will give his evidence tomorrow.

In yesterday's opening submission, Mr Ridgeway said 18 telephone calls were made between Silatolu and his coup accomplice, Josefa Nata, in April and May 2000 before the coup was staged on the 19th of the month.

Phone calls were also made to the coup front man, George Speight, and fellow coup accomplice, Iliesa Duvoloco.

Mr Ridgeway said the two were part of Speight's group and were part and parcel of the coup consipiracy.

The court also heard that Speight was regularly on the phone with a man leading a protest march through Suva at the time of the coup.

That march ended in the destruction of a large part of central Suva but until now has never been directly linked to the coup.