15 Jul 2003

George Speight's cousin in court on coup related charges

10:25 am on 15 July 2003

The trial has begun in Fiji of George Speight's cousin and six others for forcefully seizing their hometown of Korovou during the height of the 2000 coup.

The Fiji Times reports that Varinava Tiko, his father Ifireimi Tiko and five villagers are facing charges of going armed in public, obstruction of public roads, wrongful confinement, unlawful assembly, forcible entry and larceny.

The accused took over the town after seizing weapons from soldiers, allegedly on instructions from parliament where Speight and his gunmen were holding members of the Chaudhry government.

They took police, soldiers and public servants hostage and held them in the police station.

A police constable, Filipe Jitoko, has given evidence that he feared armed villagers would kill him after he was beaten and held captive in a cell for four days without food.

The trial will continue today with more witnesses giving evidence.