23 Nov 2004

Assessors in Fiji mutiny trial split on senator's guilt

7:41 pm on 23 November 2004

The five assessors who have heard the High Court trial of the Fiji government senator facing mutiny charges are divided on their verdicts.

Ratu Inoke Takiveikata has been charged with four counts of inciting and one of aiding the November 2000 mutiny, which claimed eight lives.

Two of the assessors have found Takiveikata NOT guilty on any of the five charges.

Three assessors have found Takiveikata guilty on some counts of inciting mutiny and not guilty on others.

All five have found him not guilty of aiding in the mutiny.

Justice Anthony Gates says he will study the assessor's reasons and give his ruling tomorrow.

Under Fiji's laws a judge has the power to overrule the verdict of assessors, whether they have found an accused guilty or not guilty.

Earlier Justice Gates had asked the assessors to note that Takiveikata had made an un-sworn statement in his defence.

Justice Anthony Gates said this meant that Takiveikata did not want to be cross-examined to verify whether he was telling the truth.