18 Aug 2004

Former Fiji soldier arrested for theft of detonators

9:45 am on 18 August 2004

Fiji police have arrested a former soldier trying to smuggle out 24 detonators ahead of today's bail hearing of the jailed vice president Seniloli.

The Daily Post reports that the man, who spent 7 years as an army engineer, was taken into custody as he was trying to steal the detonators from the Emperor Gold Mine where he was employed only a month ago.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, says detonators are used to make explosives and are dangerous.

A spokesman for Emperor Mines, Jonacani Lailai, is quoted as saying that given the current situation, he could not rule out the possibility that the detonators could be used to cause instability.

The arrest comes as police maintain a cordon around the capital and have increased security around the courts ahead of today's hearing of a bail application by Seniloli and four others.

Police intelligence earlier uncovered plans by domestic terrorists to cause destabilisation to free Seniloli, with commissioner Andrew Hughes saying "rioting, causing injuries and damaging property" will not be tolerated.

Mr Hughes says police are closely following the situation and if they cannot handle it, he "will call on the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, to deploy his forces."