18 Oct 2007

Former Fiji navy commander Kean pleads guilty to manslaughter

2:43 pm on 18 October 2007

The former commander of the Fiji navy, Francis Kean, has pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter.

Kean was originally charged with murder but when state prosecutors reduced the charge to manslaughter at the start of his trial today, he pleaded guilty.

Kean will be sentenced next Thursday after mitigation.

Kean's trial generated controversy last week when he attempted to use a confidential letter written by the police commissioner, Commodore Esala Teleni, to have Justice Gerard Winter disqualify himself from hearing the case.

Yesterday, Kean sacked his lawyer Abhay Singh who is under investigation by the Fiji Law Society about the manner in which he obtained that letter.

The original charge arose from the death of a 31-year old salesman, John Whippy, whom Kean was alleged to have punched at the wedding reception of Commodore Frank Bainimarama's daughter on December 31st last year.