23 May 2005

Fiji man pleads guilty to coup related charge

1:55 pm on 23 May 2005

One of the five Fiji men charged for joining George Speight's failed administration during the coup has pleaded guilty and apologised to the nation and to the deposed prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.

Radio Legend reports that Antonio Tanaburenisau and four others, including the transport minister Simione Kaitani, were charged with taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence by purporting to become ministers in the failed administration.

He pleaded guilty and appeared before the Suva High Court today for mitigation.

The prosecution lawyer Ashishna Prasad told Justice Gates that Tanaburenisau took the oath a day after the coup as the assistant minister for the environment.

Ms Prasad said the Fijian Association leader, Ratu Tuakitau Cokanauto, had told Tanaburenisau not to take any ministerial posts offered by Speight and to leave the parliamentary premises, but he did not heed the advice.

The defence lawyer, Tevita Fa, said Tanabuirenisau had apologised to the nation for his part in the events of May 2000.

Mr Fa said his client did not commit the offence knowingly and asked the court for a suspended sentence.

But Justice Gates has deferred sentencing until the finalisation of the case against others charged with the same offence which will begin later this month