14 Feb 2003

Two senior Fiji politicians to face charges over Labasa mutiny in 2000

10:44 am on 14 February 2003

A senior Fiji cabinet minister and a government senator are facing charges in connection with the Labasa army mutiny at the height of the May 2000 coup.

The Fiji Times has named the lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and government senator, Ratu Josefa Dimuri, as being involved in the takeover of the Labasa barracks.

The two, both members of the pro-coup Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua Party, have been charged with illegal assembly at the barracks where they encouraged 56 soldiers to mutiny in support of the Suva coup.

Several other chiefs were named during the recent court martial of the Labasa mutineers who have all been jailed with their two leaders receiving life sentences.

The acting director of criminal investigations, Surperintendent, Josaia Rasiga, says other suspects are being interviewed and charges would be laid where appropriate.

Another government senator and Naitasiri paramount chief, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, has already been charged with conspiracy in relation to the November 2000 Suva mutiny which claimed eight lives.

Both senators were appointed to the Upper House by the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.