19 Jul 2004

Speight brother to seize Ratu Mara in Fiji coup plot

3:12 pm on 19 July 2004

The treason trial of Fiji vice president Seniloli and five others has heard that the coup front man George Speight's brother, Jim Speight, was assigned to capture the then president, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

But while George Speight took the Chaudhry government hostage, Jim did not carry out his part of the plan.

Radio Fiji reports that this was part of a police interview statement read out in the Suva High Court today by Superintendent Waisea Tabakau.

Mr Tabakau said that in his interview, accused Viliame Savu, who has already served a sentence for having prior knowledge of the coup but failing to inform the authorities, had denied any knowledge of the two plans.

Police say Savu revealed that Jim Speight did not carry out his mission because the nationalist Vanua Tako Lavu Party thwarted him by choosing to present Ratu Mara with a petition to step down because most indigenous Fijians "hated" his leadership.

Savu, who was a member of the nationalist group which organised a march through the streets of Suva to coincide with the coup, said his colleague, Iliesa Duvuloco, had the petition during the march which was to be given to Ratu Mara at Government house.

But the petition was not given because they were stopped at the gates to Government House where they were told of the coup in parliament.

The police statement also quoted Savu as saying that the law is made by man and it is also man who can break it.