17 Aug 2005

Fiji police commissioner says "not guilty" does not mean "innocent"

10:16 am on 17 August 2005

Fiji's police commissioner says a not guilty verdict by the Suva High Court in a coup-related case does not mean the crime was not committed.

Radio Legend reports that Andrew Hughes made the comment after Justice Anthony Gates ruled this week that the transport minister, Simione Kaitani, and three others were not guilty of guilty of taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence during the coup.

Mr Hughes says a finding of not guilty does not equate to a finding of innocence.

He says what it means is that the prosecution and the police were unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offence was committed and that is what happened in the current case.

Mr Hughes says the ruling has not deterred the police from proceeding in cases against others alleged to have been involved in the Speight coup.

Mr Hughes says investigators will have to work harder to ensure that they gather the best evidence before charges are laid against others.

Meanwhile, the fifth accused Antonio Tanaburenisau, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of taking an illegal oath at the start of the trial, has been sentenced.

Justice Gates said he had a lesser role in the offences and has given him a 2-year prison sentence suspended for 2 years.