9 Apr 2010

Fiji's coup leaders give themselves immunity

1:33 pm on 9 April 2010

Fiji's coup leaders have given themselves immunity.

The President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, has approved a decree giving full immunity to those involved with the 2006 coup, and also for the coup in 2000 and the attempted mutiny at the Fiji army barracks that year.

The decree, dated March 22nd, states that absolute and unconditional immunity will be irrevocably granted to the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, his predecessor, Jona Senilagakali, and a former president Ratu Josefa Iloilo, who last year abrogated the constitution.

It extends the immunity from criminal or civil prosecution to members of the military, police and prison service, and all others acting under official orders.

The decree says, howver, that those who have already been found guilty of crimes will not be given immunity.

It says the immunity will apply to a list of prescribed political events, starting with what it calls the purported civilian takeover of the government in May in 2000 and the attempted mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth barracks later that year.

It says the immunity will also cover the government take-over in 2006, and the abrogation of the constitution.

The 2000 coup perpetrators, led by George Speight, also gave themselves immunity for their actions but Commodore Bainimarama later reneged on the deal and had them arrested.

The 1987 coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, had his immunity enshrined in the constitution.