21 Jan 2003

More details about Fiji coup emerge at treason trial

12:36 pm on 21 January 2003

The treason trial of Fiji coup accomplices, Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata, has been told that it was Silatolu who gave the final go-ahead for the overthrow of the Chaudhry government on May the 19th 2000.

The Daily Post reports this was disclosed by state witness Simione Drole who is serving a jail sentence on Nukulau Island for his role in the coup.

Drole said the day before the coup they met Silatolu at the SVT party's office in central Suva in the presence of party secretary, Jone Banuve.

Later at coup accomplice Iliesa Duvuloco's residence, George Speight arrived to brief them on the plans for the next day.

Drole said his cousin Peceli Vuniwa, Speight and Silatolu then went to a location opposite the base of the army's Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit where they met Jim Speight and loaded weapons into George Speight's vehicle.

He said at the beach near parliament, the weapons were transferred to an inflatable dinghy and floated out to sea before the final coup briefing took place.

Drole said they then went to Josefa Nata's apartment where Nata had a list of names for the new interim government which was to take over after the coup.

He said the next morning in parliament, it was Silatolu who made a phone call of Speight and his group minutes after the House met to signal the go-ahead for the coup.

The trial is continuing.