25 Feb 2003

Fiji senator in court over coup related roadblock

6:05 am on 25 February 2003

A Fiji government senator has appeared in court on a charge related to the May 2000 coup.

Senator Apisai Tora and 15 other people from Sabeto village have been charged with unlawful assembly in July 2000 at the height of the political crisis after the coup.

They are alleged to have set up a roadblock on the main highway at Sabeto near Nadi airport.

Police have told the Nadi magistrate's court that Senator Tora and the others seized an army checkpoint established at the place to maintain security.

Tora and the other accused have pleaded not guilty and have been released on bail until their next court appearance on March the 24th.

Three of the accused who were not represented by a lawyer have been told to get a defence, from the Legal Aid Commission if necessary, before their next court appearance.

Tora was at the forefront of call for the overthrow of the Chaudhry government and led several nationalist protest marches, the last of which led to the looting and burning of Suva as the coup was taking place in parliament.