6 Aug 2004

Fiji's vice president faces life behind bars

6:31 am on 6 August 2004

Fiji's Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli faces a maximum term of life imprisonment this morning after being found guilty of treason-related charges.

Seniloli was convicted for taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence, by agreeing to be sworn in as president during the 2000 coup.

Four others were convicted on the same charge, by agreeing to be sworn in as ministers.

Seniloli faces a judge for sentencing this morning after spending the night in police custody.

Also in police custody are the deputy speaker of parliament Vakalalabure, Viliame Savu, Viliame Volavola and Peceli Rinakama who joined Speight's failed rebel administration.

The sixth accused, the sports minister Leweniqila, was found not guilty by the assessors and was acquitted.

Justice Nazhat Shameem will hear mitigation from their defence lawyers before pronouncing sentence.

Radio Legend reports Seniloli's lawyer, Mehboob Raza, as describing the verdict as "sickening" adding he would seek bail and appeal.

The police spokesman, Mesake Koroi, has appealed to the public to remain calm.