6 Aug 2004

Sentencing of Fiji vice-president imminent

2:17 pm on 6 August 2004

The sentencing of Fiji's vice-president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, is now expected to be held shortly.

Yesterday, he and four others were found guilty of coup-related charges for their role in the failed administration set up by coup frontman George Speight.

The maximum sentence is life in jail but the defence lawyers have asked for non-custodial sentences.

The president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, has cancelled his attendance at today's funeral of the the former first lady, Adi Lady Lala Mara.

Her burial is at her home village of Lomanikoro in Rewa in accordance with the full traditional protocol befitting her status as Fiji's highest ranking chief.

In Suva, police have threatened the immediate arrest of anyone taking party in demonstrations or protests following yesterday's court ruling

The police spokesman, Mesake Koroi, says no permits have been given for any such activities and they would be illegal.

The military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, said the security forces are monitoring the situation and are prepared to respond to any trouble.

The information minister, Simione Kaitani, says the five were all proud and confident of what they did.

But the chief prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi QC, said the convictions showed that Fiji stood firmly for the rule of the law and not the rule of the gun.