12 Mar 2004

Disbanded Fiji force accused of breaking law

2:24 pm on 12 March 2004

The court martial of a second group of 23 Fiji soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny has been told that members of their unit have been engaged in illegal activities ever since it was formed.

The Fiji Times reports that this was confirmed by a prosecution witness, Captain Jolame Misovono.

Captain Misovono said surveillance of private properties by members of the now disbanded Revolutionary Warfare Unit throughout the years of its existence were unlawful.

Captain Misovono said then Lt Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka's coup in May 1987 was also unlawful and a mutiny.

But, he said, a soldier would lose his position in the unit if he disobeyed an order, even though it was unlawful.

The unit was set up by Sitiveni Rabuka after his 1987 coup, carried out the May 2000 Speight coup and was disbanded by Commodore Frank Bainimarama after the November 2000 mutiny.

Meanwhile, the president of the court martial, Colonel Matereti Sarasau, has refused defence lawyer Sevuloni Valenitabua's request for a one-month adjournment so he could defend a murder trial.