13 Feb 2003

Further court martial in Fiji over November 2000 mutiny

4:54 pm on 13 February 2003

The Fiji court martial of the remaining 25 soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny began in Suva today with a series of applications for adjournments.

Radio Fiji reports that Col Matareti Sarasau is presiding over the court martial in the absence overseas of Col Ilaisa Kacisolomone.

The defence lawyer for 14 of the accused, Kelemedi Bulewa, sought an adjournment, saying he had to discuss with his clients their objections to some of the six military officers included in the court martial panel.

The lawyer for another eight of the accused, Sevaloni Valenitabua, also applied for an adjournment, saying he was involved in the high court treason case of coup accomplices, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu.

Vodo Tuberi, who represents Sergeant Vilimoni Tikotani, the first accused in the mutiny case, also asked for an adjournment saying he had only received instructions a week ago and needed time to prepare his case.

The hearing was adjourned until this afternoon when defence lawyers will present their objections against some members of the court martial.

The first group of 14 soldiers charged with the Suva mutiny were sentenced last year with their leader, Capt Shane Stevens, receiving life.

The mutiny was aimed at assassinating the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and freeing George Speight.