11 Oct 2002

Fiji mutiny case winding up with call for dismissal of accused

11:14 am on 11 October 2002

Lawyers defending 15 Fiji army soldiers for taking part in the November 2000 mutiny have told their court martial that the accused should be acquitted.

The submission was made during the summing up by the lawyers towards the end of a court martial which has lasted over a year.

One of the lawyers, Rabo Matebalavu, said the leader of the mutineers, Captain Shane Stevens, did not plan the uprising and was only instructing his subordinates because he was ordered to do so by Colonel Ulaiasi Vatu.

He asked why Col Vatu and others implicated by Stevens in the planning of the mutiny, former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Naitasiri high chief and government senator Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, were not called before the court martial.

Mr Matebalavu asked whether the military was protecting the three.

He also questioned why the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who was the target of the mutiny, was not called as as well.