3 Jul 2003

Fiji government senator alleged to have been behind November 2000 mutiny

9:31 am on 3 July 2003

A court martial in Fiji has been told that a government senator and vice president of the ruling SDL party was behind the November 2000 mutiny which claimed eight lives.

Radio Fiji reports Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, the paramount chief of Naitasiri province, was named in the police statement given by the two soldiers who have pleaded guilty to the mutiny.

Military prosecutor, Major Kitione Tuinaosara, said the mutiny was planned at Ratu Inoke's house at Nausori where several soldiers of the now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit and a Seventh Day Adventist Church pastor were present.

At the meeting Ratu Inoke called for the removal of the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and promised the support of four thousand civilians to achieve this.

He also called for the removal of Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini and Lt Col Bale Drokadroka, saying the two officers had not carried out tasks allocated to them on May 19th - the day the coup took place to overthrow the Chaudhry government.

Captain Stevens then promised Ratu Inoke that he would seize the camp in twenty minutes.

The court martial will resume on Wednesday next week when it will hear mitigation pleas from the two soldiers who have pleaded guilty to the mutiny before they are sentenced.

Captain Stevens was sentenced to life imprisonment last year for leading the mutiny while some other soldiers were sentenced to lesser terms.

Ratu Inoke is facing a civil charge of conspiracy in the mutiny and has had to surrender his passport to the courts.