14 Aug 2006

Fiji police chief asked to stop dispute over chiefly title

10:25 am on 14 August 2006

A dispute over a key chiefly title in Fiji is threatening to spill over into more violence.

The Fiji Sun reports that the police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, has been urged to intervene and stop the situation at Naseakula village in Labasa from getting out of control.

The newspaper says tension at the village has been high since last Thursday night when a faction supporting the installation of Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma as the TUI LABASA attacked a faction supporting a rival claimant.

In the attack a Fiji Sugar Corporation board member, Ratu Savenaca Qomate Ritova, and four others armed with knives, pinch bars and iron rods stormed three homes, terrorized the families and stabbed a man who is in serious condition in Labasa hospital.

They have been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm and acts with intent to cause grievous harm.

A spokesman for the attacked villagers, Maikeli Drauna, has accused Labasa police of downplaying the attack and called on Commissioner Hughes to take direct charge.

Mr Drauna says they would not accept any traditional apology because the accused were drunk when they mounted the attack and terrorized women and children, and should face their punishment in the courts.