17 Nov 2006

Rabuka set up unit which staged mutiny and coup - Suva High court told

6:36 am on 17 November 2006

The Suva High Court has been told that the former Fiji prime minister and army commander, Sitiveni Rabuka, set up the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit which staged the May 2000 coup and the army mutiny that followed in November.

As well, the court has heard that the unit was trained by Major Ilisoni Ligairi, a soldier with long service in the crack British Special Air Services regiment, who led the soldiers who staged the Speight coup.

The evidence was given by the former Land Force commander and the military chief of staff in 2000, Lt Col Jone Baledrokadroka.

Col Baledrokadroka was giving evidence in the trial of Rabuka who is charged with two counts of inciting mutiny in July and November of 2000.

He told the court that he had no prior knowledge of the mutiny and only became aware of its when it was staged on the afternoon of November 2nd 2000.

He said the mutineers took over the National Operations Centre of which he was in charge and he was forced to relocate to the engineers' building.

Col Baledrokadroka said Rabuka called him at about 6.00pm that day but he did not answer the phone because he was preparing the counterattack against the rebels which took place about 20 minutes later.

He told the court he did not believe Rabuka had any intention to try and solve the crisis as claimed.

Rabuka's trial continues today.