18 Jan 2006

Fiji police commissioner criticises media reporting of military incident

10:44 am on 18 January 2006

Fiji's police commissioner is scathing of overseas news organisations, particularly New Zealand television and newspapers, which he says did not accurately portray Thursday's disagreement in the military which led to the sacking of a senior military man.

Andrew Hughes says journalists made a leap in their assessment of Fiji's security situation.

He says the military's tightening of security was picked up by local media and he told local media that police would put units on standby until they ascertained what was going on.

Commissioner Hughes says the military then relaxed security measures after the commander dismissed his recently-appointed head of land forces.

He says the police also went off standby, and he fails to see how this was seen as being on the brink of a coup.

"It was a disagreement involving the hierarchy, involving one officer principally with no support, and that matter was dealt with internally by the military in the space of about eight hours. There was no threat to overthrow the government, which is what a coup is."

Mr Hughes says at worst the incident was an attempted mutiny, but one which he says was doomed from the outset because it was supported by only one person.