8 Jul 2004

Prominent names feature in Fiji treason trial

2:33 pm on 8 July 2004

Prominent Fiji people have again featured in the treason trial of vice president Seniloli and five others accused of joining the rebel administration after the Speight-fronted coup.

One of the accused, Lt Col Viliame Volavola, said in his police statement that former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, came into parliament soon after the coup.

The soldiers who carried out the coup were from the now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare unit which Mr Rabuka set up after his 1987 coup.

A state witness, Joseph Brown, who was official secretary to the president at the time of the coup, said Mr Rabuka had asked Ratu Mara to appoint him military commander soon after the Chaudhry government was taken hostage.

But Volavola's police statement said the rebels wanted to make Colonel Ulaisi Vatu the new commander and Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini, the new chief of staff.

In his evidence, Mr Brown said he saw one of the accused and current deputy Speaker Vakalalabure, and the current ministers for land and information, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and Simione Kaitani in parliament.

Others present were the current deputy president of the Senate Dr Ahmed Ali, George Speight's father Sam Speight Snr, former Rabuka ministers Berenado Vunibobo and Jim Ah Koy, and the current New Labour MP, Ofa Duncan.