17 Aug 2005

Fiji military to retry mutiny soldiers

6:38 am on 17 August 2005

Fiji's military is to convene a fresh court martial to retry soldiers who had already been convicted and sentenced for their role in the November 2000 mutiny.

This follows an order by the Fiji Court of Appeal that the 20 soldiers be retried because their first court martial was unlawful

The Appeal Court judges said military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, did not have the powers to appoint members of the court martial panel which tried and convicted the appellants.

The judges said only the commander-in-chief of the military, President Iloilo, had the power to appoint members of court martial panel.

Military lawyer, Major Kitione Tuinausara, has told Radio Legend that most of the soldiers had only a few months to go before they would have completed their original sentences.

But as the Appeal Court has quashed their convictions, Major Tuinausara said military police will re-arrest them for the new court martial panel which will be appointed soon.

The November 2000 mutiny, which was aimed at assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and freeing George Speight, claimed eight lives and resulted in more than 30 injuries including those of civilians.