25 Apr 2005

Former Fiji prime minister, police commissioner and Senator implicated in Seruvakula statement

9:16 am on 25 April 2005

A former Fiji prime minister, a former police commissioner and a government senator are among prominent people cited in a police statement for their involvement in the May 2000 Speight coup.

The Daily Post makes these revelations in publishing more details of the July 2003 police statement given by Lt Col Viliame Seruvakula parts of which were made public last week.

The newspaper says the statement speaks about how in April 2000 reports began coming in from the then SVT party and the Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavu Party that people were not happy and wanted to get rid of the Chaudhry government.

Meetings were held in Suva of the Taukei Movement headed by the government senator and another of indigenous lawyers held in a Suva hotel was attended by the then manager of the Native Lands Trust Board, Maika Qarikau, and treason convict Josefa Nata.

In the police statement Lt Col Seruvakula talks of a series of meetings before May 19th at which the government senator allegedly planned acts of arson to incite the indigenous community to prepare them for the coup.

The document reveals how, on the day of the coup, the former police commissioner, Col Isikia Savua, told Lt Col Seruvakula to "take it easy" when the 3rd battalion commander asked that his troops be given powers of arrest.

Shortly afterwards, Major General Sitiveni Rabuka walked in and asked the army officer if he was on George Speight's side.

When Lt Col Seruvakula said NO, Rabuka "took a side look at the commissioner of police, their eyes met, and they both looked up at the ceiling. No one said anything for two or three minutes."

Last week, police used a search warrant to seize copies of the Seruvakula statement from Fiji TV which reported on its contents.