18 Mar 2003

Fiji minister in court over Labasa mutiny charges

7:23 am on 18 March 2003

A senior Fiji cabinet minister, a government senator and two other chiefs have appeared in the Labasa magistrate's court on mutiny related charges.

The Fiji Times has named the four as the minister for lands and MP for the pro-coup Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua party, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Senator and Labasa chief Ratu Josefa Dimuri and two other Vanua Levu local chiefs.

They have been charged with illegal assembly at the Labasa army barracks during the army mutiny which occurred at the height of the coup.

In addition, Senator Ratu Josefa has been charged with inciting mutiny which will require a high court trial preceded by a preliminary inquiry.

Their cases have been deferred to various dates in August.

Soldiers involved in the Labasa mutiny were convicted and sentenced to prison earlier this year, with two receiving life sentences.