30 Sep 2019

Fiji army probes claims soldiers grilled teen over anti-PM post

3:34 pm on 30 September 2019

Fiji's military says it did not authorise the questioning of a teenager over an alleged post on social media directed at Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Frank Bainimarama

Frank Bainimarama Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

Last week, a 16-year-old boy was taken from his home by two men claiming to be military personnel and held for nearly two days.

Police have refused to comment on the matter, but the military said it would be holding its own investigations into the two men.

Lieutenant-Commander Saula Tuilevuka said the army cannot arrest civilians.

"We are not supposed to. Any investigation that we want, we will request police assistance. If we need to investigate someone breaching national security or something, our lead department will be the police. Then they will go with a warrant.

"That's why I keep asking why the family released the kid to those two claiming to be military. This should've gone through the police. Everybody knows that should be the procedure."

Mr Tuilevuka said he is concerned at how the boy's family was treated by the two men.

The boy's aunt claimed the men did not allow the family time to ask them questions.

She said the two men instead took her nephew outside and put him in a vehicle.

Mr Tuilevuka said the family should not have released the teenager to the two men.

"Anyone can go into someone's home and claim to be military," he said.

"I also have kids the same age as the boy so I'm really sympathetic towards the family."

He said the army is awaiting a report from police on the matter.