20 Feb 2003

Fiji probe of former police commissioner's role in 2000 coup incomplete

6:50 pm on 20 February 2003

Investigation files into Fiji's former police commissioner and now ambassador to the United Nations, Colonel Isikia Savua's alleged involvement in the May 2000 coup are still open.

Fiji's minister for home affairs, Joketani Cokanasiga, revealed this in parliament this morning in response to a barrage of opposition questions following recent revelations in the treason trial of Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu.

The speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, allowed the questions despite government attempts to gag them on the ground of national security and because the matter was still before the courts.

Mr Cokanasiga said Col Savua was investigated by a commission set up by the president and headed by the former chief justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga.

But he said the report of that inquiry, which was held behind closed doors, was not with the police.

Mr Cokanasiga said police are collecting all the information that has emerged in the recent past and their file on Col Savua is till open.

But on a Labour MP's question whether police had formally interviewed Col Savua under caution, the minister said he did not know and would provide the answer at a later date.

Another Labour MP, Pratap Chand, asked the minister to investigate whether there was collusion between the office and the police commissioner and companies alleged to have funded the coup.

Mr Chand questioned the propriety of a statement from the acting commissioner, Moses Driver, saying there was no evidence against the companies when the minister himself had said there was no time limit under the law to complete the investigations which were still continuing.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, had earlier told the House that police were doing their utmost but three years was not enough to investigate the perpetrators because thousands of people were involved in the coup.