24 Mar 2004

Former Fiji hostage testifies in coup trial

7:34 am on 24 March 2004

One of the hostages held in Fiji's parliament during the May 2000 coup has testified in the trial of six men charged with serious offences related to the overthrow of the government.

Businessman Leo Smith, who was a member of the Chaudhry government and earlier a minister in the Rabuka government, has identified former army lawyer Tevita Bukarau and former head of the Fiji Intelligence Service, Col Metuisela Mua.

Mr Smith has told the Suva magistrate's court that Bukarau and Mua were present at a meeting in parliament with Speight on the day of the coup.

Mr Smith said he was invited to the meeting by the Fijian Association MP, Ratu Tuakitau Cokanauto.

Bukarau, Mua, nationalist Viliame Sausauwai, former Telecom employee Rusiate Korovusere, businessman Jioji Bakoso and Eroni Lewaqai have been charged for consorting with people carrying firearms and unlawful assembly.

They have pleaded not guilty.

The trial will continue today with further prosecution witnesses giving evidence.