15 Jul 2004

Fiji court martial of 61 soldiers delayed until later this month

10:29 am on 15 July 2004

The court martial of 61 Fiji soldiers charged with serious coup related offences, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, has had to be adjourned to the 23rd of this month.

Radio Fiji says the trial was to have started yesterday but several members of the court martial panel were not available because their commander-in-chief, President Iloilo, was visiting the army camp.

The 61 have been charged with mutiny, wrongful confinement of the Chaudhry government and misprision of treason for knowing the coup would take place but failing to inform the authorities about it.

Mutiny and misprision of treason carry a maximum sentence of life behind bars and wrongful confinement a prison term of 7 years.

A Radio Fiji reporter who went to cover the court martial said the accused did not appear worried about the severity of the sentences and cheerfully shared jokes with family members present.