14 Nov 2002

Reconciliation, mitigation and repentance at Fiji mutineers' court martial

12:13 pm on 14 November 2002

15 Fiji soldiers found guilty of the November 2000 mutiny are to seek forgiveness from the Great Council of Chiefs.

Radio Fiji says a traditional indigenous presentation on behalf of the soldeirs will be made to the chiefs during their current meeting in Suva tomorrow to seek forgiveness.

This was revealed by a member of the Great council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, who said a traditional apology would also be made to the army commander and his troops, President Iloilo and the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

In mitigating for the mutineers, Ratu Epeli said the 15 men had repented of their ways and vowed never to be involved in destabilising society.

Among others who mitigated were the first commander of the mutineers' unit and coup accomplice. Ilisoni Ligairi, and the Christian church pastors, one of whom said a suspended sentence for the men would enable them to testify what God has done for them while in prison.

The mutineers also apologised to the court martial for what they had done and their leader, Captain Shane Stevens, sought forgiveness from the families of those who were killed as well as from the army commander and other ranks of the military.

A defence lawyer, Rabo Matebalavu, asked the court martial for mercy on his clients saying they should be given suspended sentences so they can get on with their lives.