2 Feb 2007

Senior Fiji police officer released after being held over illegal firearm

4:32 am on 2 February 2007

Fiji's military has released from its custody a senior police officer held for being in possession of illegal firearms.

Assistant Commissioner Samuela Matakibau was first arrested on Sunday night and then again just hours after being released on Tuesday afternoon after troops found a self-loading long range rifle fitted with telescopic sights at his house.

A similar weapon was found at the home of a police officer under Matakibau's command who is currently serving in Solomon Islands.

A police statement says Matakibau was released from military custody today and sent on indefinite leave.

The other senior police officer implicated in the firearms offence will be questioned on his return from Solomon Islands.

The American made weapons, which can take out targets more than half a kilometre away, are not part of the armoury of the Fiji military or police.

No details have been disclosed of how they were brought into the country.

The discovery of the weapons forced the military to go on a heightened state of alert

A report yesterday said army intelligence was assessing information obtained from Matakibau on whether there were plans to use these weapons against the military.