28 May 2005

Fiji minister meets coup prisoners in Suva jail

8:04 am on 28 May 2005

A Fiji cabinet minister is reported to have visited Suva Prison to meet with prominent people jailed for coup related offences.

Fiji TV reports that the minister for women and social welfare, Adi Asenaca Caucau, has denied the visit had anything to do with the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Bill is designed to free people jailed for what the government describes as "politically motivated" offences.

Adi Asenaca says she was just doing her job and her discussions with coup prisoners was in an enclosed area and private.

Last month the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, visited the former minister for lands, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and another jailed government senator, just days before they were released as extramural prisoners.

Two days later Mr Qarase visited Suva Prison to meet another senator appointed by him, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, who is serving a life sentence for inciting the November 2000 army mutiny which claimed eight lives.