31 Jan 2006

Sacked Fiji top officer refuses board hearing on alleged mutiny

4:21 pm on 31 January 2006

The senior Fiji military officer sacked as Land Force Commander for trying to oust Commodore Bainimarama earlier this month has refused to attend a board of inquiry.

The Fiji Times reports that Col Jone Baledrokadroka's lawyer, Davnesh Sharma, says the summons issued by the military board of inquiry is defective.

Mr Sharma says Col Baledrokadroka was summoned to give evidence that he tried to usurp control of the army.

He says if that is the specific allegation, Col Baledrokadroka cannot be summoned to give evidence because under the law no person can be compelled to give evidence against himself.

Mr Sharma says they also want clarification on several issues including how the board was convened and whether an officer junior to Col Baledrokadroka is heading it.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, says the board is headed by Col Samuela Saumataua, is recognised under military law and anyone who disobeys a summons to attend is criminally liable under the penal Code.

Captain Leweni says the board is a legal process under military law to gather evidence to determine whether there's a need to convene a court martial.