13 Nov 2002

18 Fiji landowners plead guilty in Monasavu seizure after coup

8:40 am on 13 November 2002

Eighteen indigenous landowners in Fiji have pleaded guilty to being in unlawful possession of firearms and setting up a roadblock at the Monasavu hydro dam at the height of the 2000 coup.

But they have told the Suva magistrate's court that they were continuously abused and assaulted by the military after their arrest.

The Daily Post quotes their lawyer, Sevuloni Valenitabua, as saying the abuse and assaults continued after they were brought to Suva in custody.

He said the accused would like to apologise to the public for being a threat to them.

Mr Valinetabua asked the court to release his clients, saying they would like to go back to their villages and get on with their lives.

Prosecutors had told the court that during July and August 2000 the accused hasd seized weapons from soldiers guarding the Monasavu dam.

Their actions resulted in extensive power blackouts in Fiji for two months.

Magistrate Salesi Temo has adjourned sentencing until November the 22nd.