18 Feb 2003

Fiji treason trial resumes with Duvuloco as defence witness

6:40 am on 18 February 2003

The treason trial of Fiji coup accomplices, Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata, has resumed with the coup convict Iliesa Duvuloco appearing as Nata's first defence witness.

Duvuloco, who is serving a prison term for his role in the coup, refused to swear an oath on the Bible but made an affirmation.

The Suva high court was then shown a video film of the appointment of George Speight's failed administration in which Nata is seen swearing in Duvuloco as the new minister for lands on the Bible.

Duvuloco said he had plenty of time to read the Bible in prison and it forbade the swearing of oaths.

In answer to the prosecutor Peter Ridgeway's question whether he knew the coup was going to happen, Duvuloco said he would reserve his right to answer.

Ordered by Justice Andrew Wilson to answer after an assurance from the prosecution that no criminal action would be taken against him for his answer, Duvuloco said he did not know of any meeting to plan the May the 19th coup prior to it happening.

This was despite the court being shown a video film of Duvuloco leading a nationalist march through Suva which was organised to divert attention from the coup in parliament.

Asked about Nata's role as media advisor to Speight during the coup, Duvuloco said he did not know.

The treason trial will continue today.