23 Nov 2004

Fiji judge questions Takiveikata testimony stand

4:52 pm on 23 November 2004

The High Court judge presiding over Fiji government senator Ratu Inoke Takiveikata's mutiny trial has questioned why the accused chose to make an un-sworn statement in his defence.

Radio Legend quotes Justice Anthony Gates as saying the un-sworn statement meant that Takiveikata did not want to be cross-examined to verify whether he was telling the truth.

Justice Gates made the comment when summing up the evidence given in the criminal trial for the five assessors.

He noted that the majority of prosecution witnesses had testified that they heard Takiveikata say that he wanted the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, removed.

This was because of the manner in which loyal soldiers of the army evicted George Speight's rebels from a school where Takiveikata had housed them.

Justice Gates questioned why Takiveikata gave two mobile phones to mutiny organiser Metuisela Turagacati who had turned state witness in return for immunity from prosecution.

The judge also noted that leader of the mutineers, Captain Shane Stevens, had given evidence that Takiveikata was present at a planning meeting in July 2000 while the accused has denied it.

Justice Gates told the assessors that they must determine beyond reasonable doubt that Takiveikata incited and aided the mutiny.