10 Oct 2006

Fiji's military angry that rebel officer still in line for top job

9:00 am on 10 October 2006

Fiji's military has been angered by the public service commission's insistence that a senior officer facing court martial is still one of two people in line to the country's next commissioner of prisons.

The chief executive of the PSC, Anare Jale, has told Fiji TV that Lt Col Jone Baledrokadroka is innocent until proven guilty and is still in their shortlist.

Mr Jale says the PSC is a constitutionally established body and anyone opposing its decisions would be breaching the constitution.

The military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, says Mr Jale can say whatever he wants but the appointment is not going to happen.

Commodore Bainimarama says Lt Col Baledrokadroka is still a serving officer and he will not be released until his court martial is over.

The officer is alleged to have conspired with senior public servants to overthrow Commodore Bainimarama at the height of a tense stand-off between the military and the government in January this year.

The Land Force commander, Colonel Pita Driti, warned last month that any appointment of Lt Col Baledrokadroka to be commissioner of prisons could be the prelude to high profile coup convicts being freed.