15 Jul 2003

Fiji court martial hears mitigation appeals of two soldiers who pleaded guity to mutiny charges

10:22 am on 15 July 2003

A court martial in Fiji had been told that two soldiers who have pleaded guilty to mutiny were only following orders.

Radio Fiji reports that the claim was made by a witness in the mitigation proceedings of Sergeant Manoa Bonafasio and Private Maikeli Bukasila.

Captain Nepani Toko said officers do the thinking for ordinary ranks who just follow orders, legal or otherwise.

He said this is what those who took part in the November 2000 mutiny were doing.

Both soldiers have apologised to the military and asked for forgiveness and leniency.

They will be sentenced on Friday while the court martial of another 23 soldiers who have pleaded not guilty will continue.

The mutiny was aimed at assassinating the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainmarama, and freeing the coup front man, George Speight.

It resulted in eight deaths and more than thirty injuries, including those of civilians.