20 Sep 2004

Fiji senator says he was not armed at roadblock set up during Speight coup

7:02 am on 20 September 2004

A Fiji government senator has pleaded not guilty in a case in which he and 12 villagers seized a military checkpoint near Nadi Airport and set up a roadblock at the height of the coup.

Senator Apisai Tora and the 12 have been charged with illegal assembly.

But in an unsworn statement, Senator Tora said he was not armed during the event and was exercising his constitutional right to assemble and demonstrate.

Senator Tora said he did not have any intention of committing an offence.

The magistrate, Sayed Mukhtar Shah, had earlier rejected the defence lawyer's submission that they had no case to answer.

Mr Shah has given both the prosecution and the defence two weeks to make further submissions before he gives his ruling in early November.

The case has been going on for three years.