8 Mar 2005

Fiji military commander says controversial officer must return

10:24 am on 8 March 2005

Fiji's military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, says the controversial officer Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini must return from overseas to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the May 2000 coup and the November mutiny.

Commodore Bainimarama's statement to Radio Legend comes after more prosecution witnesses in a court martial currently under way have named Tarakinikini as being one of those involved.

Commodore Bainimarama says the commander in chief of the military, President Iloilo, has also ordered Tarakinikini to return because his attempted resignation had not been accepted.

Commodore Bainimarama says the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the army which means that Tarakinikini is still a member of the force and subject to military law.

He says the public debate on the issue is disappointing because the military is strictly following its procedures which Tarakinikini has breached.

Commodore Bainimarama says Tarakinikini is wanted in Fiji to answer outstanding questions about his alleged involvement in the coup and the army mutiny which claimed eight lives.

Tarakinikini has been refusing to return to Fiji since he went overseas in early 2001.