7 Jul 2004

Fiji treason trial told that Rabuka wanted to take over army after coup

4:10 pm on 7 July 2004

The treason trial of Fiji vice president Seniloli and five others has been told that the 1987 coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, wanted to become army commander after the George Speight fronted May 2000 coup.

Radio Legend reports that this was part of the evidence given today by the current director of immigration, Joe Brown, who at the time was the official secretary to the then president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Mr Brown said Mr Rabuka made his request to become army commander to Ratu Mara soon after the May 19th coup.

As well, Mr Brown said he collected a petition for the president from rebels marching on Government House and later briefed Ratu Mara on the takeover of parliament by Speight's rebels.

Mr Brown said he was ordered by Ratu Mara to ask the attorney general's office to prepare documents to declare a state of emergency which was gazetted the same night.

He said the President delivered an address to the nation that evening.

The gist of that address was that the President would never bow down to those who terrorised the nation, and he would use all his powers to set the hostages free and protect the rights and interests of all races in Fiji.

In a television interview broadcast soon after his death in April but recorded earlier, Ratu Mara had said that immediately after the coup, Mr Rabuka had phoned him and said. "I am ready."

But Ratu Mara said he did now know what Mr Rabuka was ready for.