11 Jan 2006

Fiji mutiny trial to resume on Tuesday

10:51 am on 11 January 2006

Eight of the 20 former Fiji soldiers being court martialled for their role in the November 2000 mutiny are expected to plead guilty when their trial resumes next Tuesday.

Radio Legend reports that this has been indicated by the defence lawyers for the 20 who said the eight had confirmed they would plead guilty.

The eight are being defended by private counsel Sevuloni Valenitabua, Legal Aid lawyer Barbara Malimali and a military lawyer.

Ms Malimali told the court martial that the Legal Aid Commission was also willing to take on the defence of another eight of the 20 soldiers who are unrepresented provided they also plead guilty.

The nine soldiers who were released on bail before Christmas have been remanded in custody during the court martial proceedings.

Earlier two members of the court martial panel were forced to step down.

This was after Ms Malimali raised objections against Captain Setareki Bogidrau and Major Sitiveni Qilio because they had helped to put down the mutiny.

The mutiny, which was aimed at assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and freeing George Speight, claimed eight lives and resulted in more than 30 serious injuries during the firefight at the main army camp in Suva.