17 Aug 2004

Fiji party warns of precedent if vice president freed

9:49 am on 17 August 2004

The Fijian political party, the SVT, has warned that if vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli is freed from prison, it would set a dangerous precedent for all coup related cases.

The party spokesperson, Ema Druavesi, has told the Fiji Sun that some other people involved in the coup and related army mutinies had been given heavier penalties than Seniloli.

But, Mrs Druavesi says, these have never been considered by the prerogative of mercy commission even though they have served more than half of their sentences.

The lands minister and leader of the pro-coup Conservative Alliance, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and the party secretary, Senator Ratu Josefa Dimuri, are facing charges in relation to the Labasa army mutiny which was ordered from parliament in the coup.

The ruling SDL party's vice president and Naitasiri paramount chief, Senator Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, is facing four counts of conspiracy for the November 2000 mutiny which was aimed at assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and claimed eight lives.

Mrs Druavesi has cautioned the government against any move to grant a pardon to Seniloli and the four others jailed with him, adding that talk of a pardon only confirms their guilt as determined by the court.