19 Jul 2011

Fiji's Colonel Mara arriving in New Zealand late Tuesday

5:56 pm on 19 July 2011

Fiji's dissident colonel, Ratu Tevita Mara, is set to arrive in New Zealand tonight for a five-day visit.

Colonel Mara flies in from Sydney and will meet officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade but will not meet the minister, Murray McCully.

Colonel Mara fled Fiji in May aboard a Tonga navy vessel and has been given a Tonga passport.

Fiji's interim government wants New Zealand to extradite him back to Suva where he faces charges of sedition and conspiracy - a request that is now with this country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fiji has also asked Australia and Tonga to extradite him.

New Zealand had initially agreed to let Colonel Mara in for two days but that has been increased to five.

He'll host public meetings in Auckland and Wellington, including addressing the New Zealand chapters of the Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement.