17 Jan 2007

Claims that Fiji soldiers threatened staff of sugar industary official

6:35 pm on 17 January 2007

There were claims in Fiji today that soldiers threatened the staff of a sugar industry official who has mounted the first legal challenge against the military since last month's coup.

The case is being brought by the suspended chief executive of the Sugar Cane Growers Council, Jaganath Sami, who was ousted from his office by the military early this month.

His suspension followed claims by Commodore Frank Bainimarama of financial mismanagement within the council and was said to be part of the clean-up campaign which saw the removal of the Qarase-led government last month.

Mr Sami claims his suspension was illegal, and the High Court ordered him to return to work until his case is recalled next week.

However Mr Sami says the military intervened.

"I got an order today from the courts that I could go to the office and I went to the office at 2. My staff received a threatening phone call from the military, saying that I should not be allowed into the office, despite the court order."

The military also suspended the board of the Growers' Council, pending the appointment of new members, which is expected to take place on Friday.