29 Nov 2002

Fiji treason trial hears from Hansard reporter

4:29 pm on 29 November 2002

A Hansard reporter from Fiji's parliament told the Suva High Court today that she was shocked and stunned when masked and armed men stormed the House on May the 19th 2000 and took the government captive.

Radio Fiji says Serei Malvavu was giving evidence in the treason trial of coup accomplices Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata.

Ms Malvavu told the court that she was the duty parliamentary reporter when the coup took place.

Justice Andrew Wilson then read out three pages from the record of parlimentary proceedings taken down by Ms Malvavu.

In her report, she described the storming of parliament as strangers entering the House and disrupting proceedings.

Her records show that the then Speaker of the House, the late Dr Apenisa Kurisaqila, told the gunmen that if they were going to shoot, they would have to shoot him first.

The leader of the oppositon at the time, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, was recorded as saying that they were not going to leave, nor would they leave without the speaker.

But a minute later, the Speaker, Ratu Inoke and opposition members left the chamber.

The record said parliament was unceremoniously adjourned at 10-55 AM.

Ms Malvavu confirmed that the defendant Silatolu had verbally agreed to the armed takeover of the government.

The trial is continuing.