25 Mar 2003

Trial begins of Tailevu rebels during Fiji coup

6:11 am on 25 March 2003

The trial has begun in Fiji of rebels who seized the town of Korovou in Tailevu province at the height of the coup nearly three years ago.

The accused include George Speight's cousin, Varenava Tiko, three local chiefs an 11 villagers.

They have been charged with a variety of offences including going armed in public, wrongful confinement, illegal assembly, forcible entry and larceny.

During the coup, the accused seized weapons from soldiers, took them and police as well as local public servants hostage, and set up roadblocks.

The offences were to show support for the coup in Speight's home province.

Several of the accused have pleaded guilty to some of the charges and will be sentenced on April the 11th.

The trial of those who have pleaded not guilty, including Tiko, will take place in the korovou magistrate's court over the next few days.