30 Jun 2006

Fiji's Rabuka pleads not guilty in mutiny hearing

1:59 pm on 30 June 2006

The former Fiji prime minister and 1987 coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, has appeared in the Suva High Court and pleaded not guilty to two counts of inciting mutiny at the military headquarters in Suva in 2000.

Radio Fiji reports that on the first count which relates to events on July the 4th, 2000, Rabuka is alleged to have incited Lt Col Viliame Seruvakula to join him in a mutinous act against the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama.

On the second count it is alleged that on November the 2nd of the same year, Rabuka also urged Lt Col Seruvakula in an act of mutiny with other personnel to remove Commodore Bainimarama.

Rabuka has denied both charges and has been bailed.

But Justice Gerard Winter has ordered Rabuka not to interfere with witnesses, to surrender his passport and report to a suburban police post in Tamavua every Monday.

Rabuka has also been told he will not be allowed to travel overseas except for urgent medical treatment and ordered to stay at one fixed address.

His trial will begin in late October.

Rabuka became military commander in May 1987 when he deposed his own commander and seized control of the army before staging the first of his two military coups that year.

He then set up the now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit which staged the 2000 coup and mutiny.

Lt Col Seruvakula, whom Rabuka had tried to incite, rushed his Third Battalion troops from Sigatoka at the height of the gun battle by mutinous troops, stormed the camp and put the rebellion down.