19 Feb 2003

Indo-Fijian companies express anger after being implicated in coup

5:56 pm on 19 February 2003

Two prominent Indo-Fijian owned businesses, accused of backing the overthrow of the Chaudhry Government in May 2000, are investigating what action they can take over the claims.

The allegations were made during the trial for treason of coup accomplices Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu.

Salesi Tuifagalele, a defence witness, told the court that companies, C J Patel and Punja and Sons, had financed the coup.

Both companies have dismissed the claims as lies.

Lawyer for C J Patel, Surug Sharma, says they are looking into issuing proceedings.

He says it is ironic the company has been accused of plotting the coup when it was one of the main victims.

"in that its property was the subject of arson attack and looting and it resulted in losses in the order of one point five million (Fiji dollars)...so, you know it is ironic here is a company that is being accused in the context of a judicial proceedings of having done something which is totally and utterly a fabrication"

Surug Sharma.

Jagdish Punja of Punja and Sons says his company also suffered as a result of what he calls the treacherous events of May 2000.

He says Punja and Sons fully supports a thorough investigation of the coup.