4 Mar 2004

Fiji opposition parties reject Jim Speight's claims

10:14 am on 4 March 2004

Opposition parties in Fiji have rejected a claim by the recently released coup convict, Jim Speight, denying the involvement of business people in funding and supporting the coup.

The Fiji Times reports that both the Labour and United General parties say Jim Speight is not telling the truth, while police say they are still continuing investigations into the involvement of businessmen.

The police spokesman, Mesake Koroi, says even if it means they have to interview Jim Speight again, they will.

The Labour Party spokesman, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, says Jim Speight's claims are a whitewash trying to protect the businessmen who were involved.

Mr Vyashnoi says the former commander of the Third Battalion, Lt. Col Viliame Seruvakula, had given a public interview in which he said he knew the identity of seven people involved in organising and funding the coup.

Mr Vyashnoi says the statements of a man who had committed treason and left the country to take up Australian citizenship are not to be trusted.

The opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, described Jim Speight's comments as not very helpful.

Meanwhile, the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, has rejected Jim Speight's claims that all military weapons used during the coup were returned to the army.