17 Dec 2005

Fiji pair convicted for usurping government in 2000 freed from jail

8:19 am on 17 December 2005

Two Fiji coup convicts jailed for taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence have been released to serve the rest of their sentences extramurally.

Ratu Viliame Volavola and Peceli Rinakama were jailed for three years in August last year for being sworn in as purported ministers in George Speight's failed administration during the coup.

The Fiji Times reports that the commissioner of prisons has confirmed they were released yesterday and told where to serve the remaining six months of their sentences.

Rinakama was a member of the Chaudhry government which he helped overthrow, leading Justice Nazhat Shameem to say during sentencing that he had betrayed his oath of office and his colleagues.

On Volavola's rank of Lt Col in the army reserve, Justice Shameem said he had betrayed his commander in chief, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, as well as the army commander.

The former vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, who was jailed with them, was released in November last year on a Compulsory Supervision Order granted by the attorney general and minister for justice, Qoriniasi Bale.