17 May 2011

Ratu Tevita says Fiji courts not currently capable of delivering a fair trial

11:12 am on 17 May 2011

The former Fiji military commander who's now in Tonga says he would not get a fair trial in Fiji where he is wanted for sedition.

The regime there is seeking the extradition of Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara.

It accuses Tonga of breaching sovereignty by collecting him from Fiji waters.

But Ratu Tevita says the Tongan navy helped him when he ran into difficulties on a fishing trip.

He says he accepts he will be judged one day for his involvement in the coup in Fiji in 2006, but says courts there are currently not capable of delivering a fair trial.

"I will come back to Fiji, I will face my fellow Fijians and answer for my part in the 2006 coup. However I will not come back to face all these charges whilst Bainimarama and co interferes with the Fiji Judiciary on a daily basis, there are not fair trials in Fiji, the court passes the verdict and sentences the regime wants."

He also says the legal action against him stems from a comment he made in a private conversation in South Korea.

And frankly saying that anyone who criticises any aspect of this regime in a private conversation can be reported ad charged. What's this? This is not the Fiji I know and love, that's more like Nazi Germany and the Gestapo.

A minister in the Tongan government says the authorities are open to extradition proceedings taking place over the former Fiji army commander.

Tonga's Minister of Public Enterprises and Revenue, Clive Edwards, says if Fiji wants Ratu Tevita to be sent back, it will have to go through the normal court processes.

We're going to go through the normal process, if the courts here decide that he should be returned, he will be returned but that remains to seen what the court decision will be.

Clive Edwards says if the bid to extradite Ratu Tevita fails, there is no reason why he can't stay in Tonga.