5 Nov 2007

Charges expected today in Fiji for 16 held in alleged assassination conspiracy

4:23 pm on 5 November 2007

Fiji police expect to lay charges this afternoon against those alleged to be have been involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the interim prime minister, members of his cabinet and senior military officers.

The police commissioner, Commodore Esala Teleni, says his officers are still determining what charges will be laid.

Up to 16 people had been detained for questioning by this morning and people are still on the hunt for others who are believed to have gone into hiding.

Commodore Teleni said he had called in the military for help because he had received reports that the suspects were armed and traveling in groups.

He says given the status of unarmed police capability, it was only prudent that the military were called in.

Commodore Teleni said businessman and New Zealand national, Ballu Khan, received minor injuries when he and his bodyguard resisted arrest and assaulted police officers.

Khan is currently receiving treatment in hospital under military and police guard.

Commodore Teleni said they have not found any arms or explosives but they are taking all precautionary measures to protect the safety and security of the people.

The sixteen people detained are being questioned at various police stations around Suva.

They include the Naitasiri paramount chief and former SDL party vice president, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, his brother-in-law and former army officer, Col Jone Baledrokadroka, and SDL party director, Peceli Kinivuwai.

Also under detention are Ballu Khan and several former soldiers of the now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit who staged the Speight coup and November 2000 mutiny.


Tui Rakuita, of the staff of the University of the South Pacific and now studying in Australia says that the action of the military sets a dangerous precedent .

"Colonel Baledrokadroka being in prison right now, incarcerated. It marks a shift, in the sense, towards a direction of greater conflict."


Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says it's absurd to suggest Australia would be involved in an assassination attempt on Mr Bainimarama.

Mr Downer has joined New Zealand political leaders in rejecting suggestions the two countries were helping finance an assassination attempt.

Mr Downer says it is completely false to suggest that the Australian government would consider assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and coup leaders in Fiji or that we would in any way wish to see any death occur in Fiji.

He added that it doesn't do any credit to Commodore Bainimarama's regime to be suggesting that countries like Australia and New Zealand want to go around assassinating them.