23 May 2002

A Fiji soldier tells court martial he was ordered to shoot two loyal officers

8:17 am on 23 May 2002

The court martial of 15 Fiji soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny has been told one of the rebels guarding two loyal officers was ordered to kill them.

The Fiji Times reports that according to evidence presented to the court, the kill order was issued by the leader of the mutineers, Captain Shane Stevens.

His exact words were "What are they doing here? They should be dead by now."

A statement from Private Simione Vunitabua, read out by police, said he was ordered by Stevens to shoot anyone who came near the operations centre in the army camp.

Vunitabua fired but not at anyone.

Vunitabua's statement said he and some other rebel soldiers escaped from the camp when Stevens was shot and taken to hospital.

The mutiny was aimed at assassinating the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and freeing the coup front man, George Speight.

It claimed eight lives and left more than thirty people wounded, including some civilians.