7 Jan 2006

Fiji police defend length of coup investigations

7:26 am on 7 January 2006

Fiji's Police Commissioner says it's unfair his force has been criticised for taking too long over investigations into the May 2000 coup.

Commissioner Andrew Hughes says he makes no apology for the time being taken to investigate the coup.

Seven individuals, six companies and one organisation are under investigation for allegedly financing the coup.

Mr Hughes says considering Fiji's small population size, limited resources and the fact that some people are unco-operative, the investigation by 21 detectives is progressing well.

"This was a major catastrophic event in the region. In a period of 16 months over 2000 people were processed, 782 have been convicted and charged with a range of offences - in fact 28 offence types... and its brought the nation to its knees. Now it's taken us five years to unravel all that web of intrigue, conspiracies, actions, inactions that gave rise to all of that."

Police are also investigating alleged complicity by their own officers in the coup and fresh allegations being made by former coup convict, Maciu Navakasuasua.

Commissioner Hughes says these include the naming of four more alleged coup instigators, a conspiracy to use explosive devices, and a plot to kill members of the Chaudhry government at the height of the Speight coup.

But we are hopeful with Mr Navakasuasua's statement and other corroborating evidence, that we can represent these to the DPP for him to reconsider and determine whether there is sufficient evidence. Unfortunately we are outside of the two year statute of limitations for treason and treason offences, but there could be other offences that could be applied.