3 Sep 2002

Former Fiji prime minister Rabuka implicated in 2000 army mutiny

10:20 am on 3 September 2002

Senior Fiji military officers, former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka and a paramount chief have been implicated in the November 2000 mutiny which claimed eight lives.

Radio Fiji reports that Col Ulaisi Vatu, Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini and Mr Rabuka were named in a police statement read out in the court martial of 15 soldiers charged with the mutiny.

The police statement was obtained from the leader of mutineers from the now disbanded Counter Revolutionatry Warfare Unit, Captain Shane Stevens, while he was in hospital recovering from his injuries.

The unit, which also staged the May 2000 coup, was set up by Major General Rabuka soon after his military coups of 1987.

According to the police statement, Col Vatu called Stevens at 10am on the day of the mutiny and told him to secure the military camp.

According to the statement, Mr Rabuka and Lt Col Tarakinikini, told the Naitasiri paramount chief, Ratu Inoke Takeivekata, that they did not like the then interim administration and wanted the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, removed.

Stevens' statement says he met with Ratu Inoke twice to plan the takeover of the camp and the chief supplied them with mobile phones and masking tape to binf their captives.

During the meetings, Ratu Inoke told Stevens that he had the backing of the people of Naitasiri and other provinces as well as chiefs from the western division and that civilians were on their way to the camp to back its takeover.

The court martial will continue today.

Ratu Inoke, who is a government senator, has been facing a charge of conspiracy in relation to the mutiny since last year but it has been repeatedly adjourned.