19 Apr 2005

Fiji army colonel reportedly told police of prominent Indo-Fijian businessman behind coup

8:26 pm on 19 April 2005

A prominent Indo-Fijian businessman was one of the financiers of Fiji's racially-motivated 2000 coup, which overthrew the country's first prime minister of Indian descent.

That's the claim in what Fiji media say are excerpts of a police interview with the former head of the military's largest battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Viliame Seruvakula.

The excerpts alleged the businessman was behind a June 2000 attempt to bribe the colonel into supporting the coup.

He identified the financier in the interview but the media outlets did not publish the name, for legal reasons.

In the 2003 police interview, Colonel Seruvakula said nearly two hundred thousand US dollars was left in his office with a note which read: "The future of the indigenous is in your hands - it is now or never".

After returning the money at a drop-off point, he said army intelligence operatives investigating the bribe attempt uncovered the identity of the businessman helping to finance the coup.