25 Jul 2003

Fiji coup investigators in New Zealand to speak with army officer

4:51 pm on 25 July 2003

A Fiji police detective has arrived in New Zealand in connection with investigations into the May 2000 coup.

The Fiji Times reports that the detective will interview the former commander of the 3rd Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment, Lt Col Semi Seruvakula, in connection with statement he made to the Fiji media before leaving the country.

Lt Col Seruvakula said at the time that he had refused a cash offer of 130 thousand US dollars to take his troops to support the coup.

He said that he knew the names of seven politicians, businessmen and a senior army officer who had planned and financed the coup and who were still free.

Lr Col Seruvakula said he had given the names to the Fiji President's Office.

After refusing to support the coup, the officer put down the November 2000 army mutiny which was aimed at assassinating the military commander and freeing George Speight.

Lt Col Seruvakula then left Fiji to join the New Zealand army where he is a senior instructor.

A police spokesman, Mesake Koroi, says the detective who has gone to New Zealand will verify the statements made by Lt Col Seruvakula as part of their investigations into the coup.