3 Dec 2002

Fiji treason trial hears of rebels' weapons supplied by Israel

11:25 am on 3 December 2002

In the treason trial in Fiji, an army captain told the high court that rebel elite soldiers carried out the 2000 coup with weapons supplied by the Israeli ambassador.

Politician Timoci Silatolu and journalist Josefa Nata are both on trial over the ousting and hostage-taking of the government headed by Mahendra Chaudhry.

Captain Jotame Misivono said Israeli-made weapons were brought into the country and given to the army unit by an Israeli ambassador while he was still in Fiji.

He said the weapons, which included Uzi sub-machine guns, gave the plotters an edge over the regular army and police.

Meanwhile, a Fiji Labour Party senator at the time of the coup, Asha Devi Singh, has failed to identify Silatolu who was sitting in the witness box.

She had told prosecutors that she would recognise him but when told in court to point him out she said Silatolu was not present.

Mrs Singh told the court that on the day of the coup she was in the parliament complex for a committee meeting when she saw several masked and armed men drag out Mr Chaudhry.

Another Labour MP at the time, Deo Narayan Singh, said seven armed men jumped into the parliament and they were ordered to kneel in front of the speaker's chambers before their hands were tied behind their backs and they were led off.