25 Nov 2004

Fiji judge says Takiveikata holds responsibility for deaths and injuries during mutiny

10:34 am on 25 November 2004

The Fiji government senator sentenced to life imprisonment for mutiny last night faced strong criticism from the judge.

Justice Anthony Gates jailed Ratu Inoke Takiveikata to three life terms after finding him guilty on three charges of inciting mutiny and 18 months for aiding in the mutiny, which claimed eight lives and caused more than 30 injuries.

Justice Gates said the mutiny was a ferocious battle with modern rifles and grenades.

He said the mutiny was a violent revolt to overthrow the army commander which saw a respectable institution reduced to disgruntled men killing and maiming their fellows.

Justice Gates said Takiveikata had to take responsibility for the deaths and injuries in the battle and the wasted lives of highly skilled men now serving prison sentences.

Justice Gates said the course of action taken by Takiveikata was most foolhardy and dangerous and caused enormous damage to the army and the country.

Earlier, the deputy commander of the army, Col Iowane Naivalurua, told the court that besides the casualties, the mutiny had created a culture of distrust within the military and the institution's image and professionalism had been questioned as a result.