31 Jan 2003

Fiji treason trial shown video of anti Indian leader speech by one of the accused

6:39 am on 31 January 2003

The treason trial of Fiji coup accomplice, Timoci Silatolu, has been shown video footage of a speech he gave in which he said he did not want an Indian prime minister or any foreigner leading the nation.

In the speech three weeks before the coup, Silatolu said foreigners could not come and control what rightfully belonged to indigenous Fijians.

He told the crowd that indigenous Fijians were being disposessed and the prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, was trying to divide Fijians to prevent the emergence of traditional Fijian government.

In answer to the prosecution, Silatolu said he was only stating the views held by his voters.

He denied that he was betraying the Labour coalition government even though he was a member of it as an MP of the Fijian Association Party, then led by deputy prime minister, Adi Kuini Speed.

Silatolu denied plotting against the government and said he agreed to become deputy prime minister in George Speight's failed administration only to please the coup front man.

The prosecution accused Silatolu of being evasive when he came out with a string of "may be's and could be's."

The prosecution then produced a letter written by Silatolu before the coup saying there could be no turning back and that he had been asked to lead the post coup government.

Silatolu claimed this could have been one of many blank sheets of paper he had signed.

The trial continues today.