1 Jul 2011

Fiji military denies assaults, advises to lodge complaints with police

6:57 pm on 1 July 2011

Assaults on union leaders by members of Fiji's military are being denied.

A senior union official in Fiji has given details about his beating at the hands of Fiji's military in February this year.

The National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony, who is visiting New Zealand, says after speaking out on the sugar industry, he was punched and kicked by at least five soldiers leaving him with a damaged eardrum and bruising.

He says another union representative Mohammed Khalil was also beaten by military officers outside a sugar mill in view of the workers.

In May, a former senior officer Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara accused the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, of personally beating four pro-democracy activists, including three women, who were detained at the barracks.

A military spokesman, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga, says he can't comment without seeing the reports.

He says the military does not do those things and anybody could claim to be in the military.

Colonel Tikoitoga says if the complainants can give proof of an assault, it should be to the police.

A spokesperson for the Information Ministry, Sharon Smith Johns, says she can't make any comments regarding the military.