20 May 2003

Fiji police widen coup probe into removal of President Mara

10:37 am on 20 May 2003

Fiji police say those responsible for removing President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara during the coup are under investigation as part of the probe into the upheaval.

Radio Fiji says this has been confirmed by assistant commissioner and head of the criminal investigation department, Emosi Vunisa.

The radio says Mr Vunisa was responding to a call by the minister for lands, Ratu Naiqama Labalavu, that those responsible for removing President Mara should also be investigated and charged.

These include the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama; the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau; former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, and former police commissioner, Colonel Isikia Savua.

Ratu Mara was asked to step down to allow military rule, with Commodore Bainimarama saying it was the right decision at the time.

But critics of the move now say he was forced to go and the courts should decide on the legality of the action.

Mr Vunisa says three years after the coup the investigation is continuing and those who removed the president are part of that.