2 Dec 2003

Fiji convict Tiko claims to know coup funders

8:14 am on 2 December 2003

The Fiji coup front man George Speight's cousin, Varenava Tiko, says he knows who funded the overthrow of the Chaudhry government.

Fiji TV says Tiko made the claim to its reporter just before he was jailed for two years yesterday for leading the forceful seizure of Korovou town during the hostage crisis.

Tiko said the list of coup funders was given to him by Speight and he wished to thank them, as well as those who gathered at parliament, for their support.

But he said, like Speight, he would keep their identities secret.

Tiko's 64-year old father, Ifireimi Tiko, has been jailed for 18 months for his involvement but the sentence has been suspended for two years because of his poor health.

Three other villagers have been sentenced for terms ranging from 8 to 18 months.

Tiko led the villagers into wrestling away weapons from soldiers, taking over the town, seizing the local police station, and holding troops, police and public servants hostage.

Magistrate Amani Rokotuinaviti said all of the accused should have thought seriously of the consequences of their actions.