4 Aug 2006

Fiji court martial hears mercy plea from convicted mutineers

10:04 am on 4 August 2006

Another eight Fiji soldiers found guilty of the November 2000 army mutiny broke down in a court martial and pleaded for mercy yesterday.

The Fiji Times reports the court martial was told two marriages had broken down and the soldiers' children were suffering because their fathers had been in custody for 5 years and 9 months.

They made the statements in mitigation and asked for lenient sentences saying their children needed them at home.

The mutineers also asked the court martial to convey a message to the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, and other officers, to ask for their forgiveness.

One of the eight, Corporal Lagilagi Vosabeci, said he knew his actions were wrong but asked for a suspended sentence because he was a first offender and had given 20 years' service to the army.

The court martial will pronounce sentence next week.

The mutiny, which was aimed at assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and freeing the coup front man George Speight, resulted in eight deaths and more than 30 injuries.