4 Mar 2003

New Zealand government denies Fiji Senator entry to New Zealand

7:47 am on 4 March 2003

A Fiji government senator and vice president of the ruling SDL party has been denied a visa to enter New Zealand because of his alleged role in the coup.

The Fiji Times reports that Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, who is also paramount chief of Naitasiri Province, was to have boarded a plane at Nausori Airport last night with the provincial rugby team.

But Ratu Inoke and the team manager and former MP, Peceli Rinakama, were refused visas despite an appeal from the Fiji Prime Minister's office to the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Phil Goff.

The immigration manager at the New Zealand embassy in Suva, Mike Christie, is quoted as saying the rugby tour was elevated to a political level after the Fiji Prime Minister's Office asked immigration officials in Welington to reconsider their stand.

Both Ratu Inoke and Mr Rinakama were prominent in the coup but say their role was to facilitate its end and New Zealand authorities have the wrong information on them.

Ratu Inoke who was also refused visas to enter New Zealand and Australia in 2001 is currently facing a charge of consiparcy in the November 2000 mutiny which claimed eight lives.