30 Jan 2003

Fiji coup accomplice Timoci Silatolu has again denied he is guilty of treason

8:20 am on 30 January 2003

The Fiji coup accomplice who is on trial for treason, Timoci Silatolu, has continued to maintain his innocence.

Silatolu has told the Suva High Court that on the second day of the coup he started negotiating for the release of the members of the Chaudhry government who were held hostage at gunpoint.

He also said he asked the hostages to resign from parliament because George Speight assured him they would be released as soon as his new administration was formed.

Silatolu said he agreed to be sworn in as prime minister in Speight's failed administration because he believed this would lead to the release of the hostages.

He said he also believed that his becoming prime minister would lead indigenous Fijians to remain calm and stabilise the nation.

Silatolu denied any part in planning the coup.

His co-accused Josefa Nata is expected to take the witness stand today.