14 Feb 2005

Four Fiji soldiers admit role in holding Chaudhry government MPs hostage during coup

8:02 pm on 14 February 2005

Another four Fiji soldiers charged for their role in the 2000 Speight coup have admitted concealing members of the Chaudhry government who were held hostage.

Radio Fiji reports that their court martial has been told the four, ranging in rank from a private to a sergeant, performed sentry duties in parliament while the overthrown government was held captive.

In her statement to police, one of the captives, former tourism minister Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau, said she was not allowed to go home to her family.

The armed men would even follow the women around to the bathroom and the toilets.

She said at night the soldiers would shine torches on their faces for a headcount.

Although the four soldiers were not part of the first group of soldiers who stormed parliament and arrested the government at gunpoint, the military lawyer, Anil Singh, said the sentry duties they performed supported the criminality of the situation.

The four soldiers will present their mitigation early next month after which they will be sentenced.

The court martial of the two remaining soldiers facing charges of mutiny and misprision of treason will begin tomorrow.