17 Apr 2003

Fiji opposition leader commends army pursuit of mutinous soldiers

10:25 am on 17 April 2003

Fiji's opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has strongly backed the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama's determination to prosecute all soldiers involved in the coup and the mutinies

The Daily Post quotes Mr Beddoes as saying Commodore Bainimarama should be allowed to finish the job.

The opposition leader's comment comes after repeated reports of government pressure to go easy on the offending soldiers and a presidential order reducing the sentences of those already convicted.

Mr Beddoes says whoever made the request to go easy should be dealt with for trying to interfere in the due process of the law.

Commodore Bainimarama said recently that political influence must be kept out of the army's attempts to mete justice and called for the removal of cabinet ministers who he said had influenced President Iloilo to order a reduction in the prison sentences of soldiers already convicted.

Mr Beddoes says Commodore Bainimarama has done the right thing by expressing his displeasure at political interference and commended him for his determination to go ahead with the prosecutions.

He says this is something the director of public prosecutions, the police and the courts can learn from.

Mr Beddoes says the current wrangling between the prime minister and the military commander is very unhealthy and un-nerving for the people of Fiji.