29 Jun 2004

More emerges about Fiji coup during Seniloli trial in Suva

8:30 pm on 29 June 2004

More high profile witnesses have taken the stand to give evidence in the treason trial of Fiji's vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, and five others.

Radio Fiji reports that the Fiji Labour Party president, Jokapeci Koroi, recalled how she was threatened with a gun in parliament.

This happened when the captive prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry's son Rajendra was being assaulted by masked and armed rebels.

Mrs Koroi said when she attempted to wrestle him away from the rebels they pointed an automatic weapon at her face and this stopped her short.

Mrs Koroi also recalled speaking to another of the accused in the treason trial and currently deputy Speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

She says although Vakalabure spoke to her in a polite manner, he was part of the rebel group.

Another witness was a member of the Fijian Association Party, Ratu Tuakitau Cokanauto, who was a strong critic of the Chaudhry government and was not taken hostage.

Ratu Tuakitau said he was offered the post of foreign minister in the rebel administration.

He said tricked Speight into letting him go home to change for the swearing in but did not return to parliament.

Ratu Tuakitau also said he recalled asking two of the accused, Peceli Rinakama and Viliame Volavola, to leave parliament and not be part the illegal administration.

He will be cross-examined on Wednesday.