20 May 2011

Fiji regime refuses to comment on torture allegations

8:14 am on 20 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.

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.

However, Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has told local media that it is not true that the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will be removed from office.

Commodore Bainimarama has told Fijilive that it should advise the international media not be naughty.

The report says that Television New Zealand claimed that Ratu Epeli would be removed from office in the next 24 hours.

The president is married to Adi Koila, a sister of Ratu Tevita.

And the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, has told officials with the US State Deparment that a firm stand needs to be taken towards Fiji to stop political instability in the Pacific.

Mr McCully is in Washington this week where he has met with the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and other top foreign affairs leaders.

His message has been that Pacific countries need to know that military dictatorships like the one in Fiji are not acceptable.