18 Nov 2004

Fiji senator blames leader of army mutiny for uprising

7:13 am on 18 November 2004

The Fiji government senator charged with inciting and aiding in the November 2000 mutiny has blamed the leader of the rebellious troops for the uprising.

Ratu Inoke Takiveikata made the allegation in an un-sworn statement in the Suva High Court, which means he can't be cross-examined by the prosecution.

Although he speaks in English in the Senate, in court, Takiveikata spoke in Fijian through an interpreter.

Radio Fiji says Takiveikata denied ever wanting to plan or stage the mutiny, which claimed eight lives and caused more than 30 injuries.

Takiveikata laid the blame on the leader of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit, Captain Shane Stevens, who's now serving a life sentence after a court martial.

Takiveikata said Stevens had told him how soldiers from his unit, who had carried out the coup in May, were brutalised by loyal soldiers, and that he wanted the leadership of the military changed.

Takiveikata said the prosecution witnesses Metuisela Turagacati and Jale Kadi, who were given immunity from prosecution for their evidence, had contacted him to seek help for the mutinous solders - but he had refused.

Only the closing statements from the defence and the prosecution remain to be heard.