19 May 2011

Fiji regime refuses to comment about torture admission by defector

6:34 pm on 19 May 2011

Fiji's interim government is refusing to comment on allegations that the military tortures civilians at the Queen Elizabeth barracks.

Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara who has left Fiji for Tonga after being charged with sedition, says all kinds of things happen at the barracks.

He says a select group of soldiers there answers only to the interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, citing the case of a man, Ben Padarath, who Ratu Tevita says was tortured.

Ratu Tevita's comments are the first by any of the 2006 coup leaders admitting that the military has been using torture in dealing with civilians perceived to be opposed to the regime.

In February, Amnesty International called for an independent impartial investigation into the arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment of civilians and ensure that those military officers suspected of involvement in these acts, irrespective of rank, are brought to justice;

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Information says the regime is not speaking to media on anything concerning Colonel Mara.

The spokesperson says the matter is being handled at government to government level.