12 Feb 2004

Fiji court rules military and police can be tried for brutality

8:38 am on 12 February 2004

The Suva High Court has ruled that members of Fiji's military and police can be brought to trial for alleged acts of brutality.

The Fiji Times reports that Justice Devendra Pathik has made the ruling in a civil case brought by a Naitasiri villager, Taito Navualaba, against the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Mr Navualaba alleges that he suffered injuries when soldiers and police officers assaulted him for taking part in the seizure of the Monasavu Hydro Dam during the coup by rebels supporting George Speight.

Justice Pathik dismissed the military application to throw out the case on the grounds that it was an abuse of the court process and ruled that there was enough evidence to use in a trial.

There are six other cases pending against the military for allegations of brutality brought by former soldiers of the now-disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit which carried out the coup and the November 2000 Mutiny.

The six claim they were assaulted after the mutiny.