4 Mar 2005

Two Fiji soldiers jailed over May 2000 coup role

3:37 pm on 4 March 2005

Two soldiers court martialled for their role in the May 2000 Fiji coup have been jailed while two others have been released.

All four had pleaded guilty to a charge of wrongful confinement of the Chaudhry government in return for charges of mutiny and misprision of treason being dropped.

Radio Fiji reports that court martial president, Col Ilaisa Kacisolomone, sentenced Lance Corporal Solomoni Cama and Private Apimeleki Madraitabua to 12 months in jail.

But he freed Staff Sergeant Maikeli Kaumaitotoya and Corporal Setitaia Buadromo as they had gone into parliament on only one occasion and had already been in prison for over four years.

Col Kacisolomone said the actions of the four had deprived members of the hostage government of their liberty and created extreme fear in their minds.

In mitigation earlier, the four soldiers apologised to all those affected by the coup, including the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, and his troops, and the late former president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who was forced out of office in the coup, and his family.

They also apologised to the deposed prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and members of his government, as well as the general public.

They said they had only been following orders in doing what they did.