11 Aug 2003

Fiji magistrate concerned about attitude of some soldiers

4:37 pm on 11 August 2003

A Fiji magistrate says the army needs to change the attitudes of some of its soldiers.

Salesi Temo was speaking after sending a former soldier, Sergeant Niumati Cati, to prison for six months for possessing plans to overthrow the government.

The sergeant had detailed plans in the form of operational orders to take over the government, blow up several bridges, impose martial law and arrest all senior military officers.

Mr Temo says he found it unthinkable that a soldier should have such documents in his possession.

"I think Fiji soldiers are, as a result of the 1987 and 2000 crisis in Fiji, some of them are somewhat politicised and dangerous, and it's a problem that the Fiji military have to try and train their soldiers to change their attitudes to become civil servants rather than usurpers of state power"

Salesi Temo also expressed concerned that the maximum penalty for the possession of seditious documents is one year's imprisonment or a fine of one hundred dollars.

He says he hopes the Director of Public Prosecutions takes the issue up with the Solicitor General and appropriate amendments are made.