28 Sep 2006

Fiji mutiny suspect in run for top prisons job

3:21 pm on 28 September 2006

A military officer who could become Fiji's next commissioner of prisons will face a court martial panel next month for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the military commander in January.

The military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, says more than 50 witnesses are ready to testify against Lt Col Jone Baledrokadroka.

He says the head of the military's legal services, Major Kitione Tuinausara, is also a witness in the case and he will be replaced by Lt Col Mohammed Aziz to lead the prosecution team.

Major Leweni says it is unethical of the public service commission to even consider Lt Col Baledrokadroka for the post of commissioner of prisons because of the serious charges against him.

Fiji's Land Force Commander, Col Pita Driti, warned yesterday that the military will not accept or condone appointment of Lt Col Baledrokadroka as the next commissioner of prisons.

The chairman of the PSC, Stuart Huggett, has confirmed that Lt Col Baledrokadroka is one of two candidates short-listed for the job.

Mr Huggett says the PSC was aware that Lt Col Baledrokadroka was facing a court martial before he was shortlisted, but under the law he's innocent until proven guilty.

He says the military shouldn't be interefering in the PSC's affairs.

"I'm sorry but they've been outraged in the past. I don't know whether they should actually be interfering in the affairs of the PSC anyway."

The chairman of Fiji's public service commission, Stuart Huggett.