12 Jun 2006

Fiji military defends mutiny court martial

7:06 pm on 12 June 2006

Fiji's military has rejected accusations that the court martial of some of the soldiers involved in the November 2000 mutiny has been far too slow.

The Fiji Times reports that the accusations have been made by the Fiji Women's Rights Movement and the Fiji Council of Social Services.

The Movement director, Virisila Buadromo, says the fact that the court martial keeps getting deferred and adjourned will have an adverse effect of wives and children who want to spend time with their husbands and fathers.

Ms Buadromo has called for a faster court martial, saying every accused person has the constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial.

The FCOSS director Hasan Khan, says it is a case of the old saying that "justice delayed is justice denied."

Mr Khan says after two general elections people are still digging up the dirt from 2000 which indicates that the government's reconciliation attempts have failed.

But the director of the military's legal services Major Kitione Tuinausara, says suspects in the mutiny court martial must be properly tried irrespective of duration and that it must be pursued out of respect for the rights of those who died on the day of the mutiny.

Major Tuinausara says most people do not understand the seriousness of the case and that most adjournments were for genuine reasons and had been sought by defence lawyers.