29 Sep 2006

Fiji army worried charged army officer may be appointed Commissioner of Prisons

11:01 am on 29 September 2006

Fiji's military says an army officer who could become the next commissioner of prisons is a major security threat to the country.

Lt Col Jone Baledrokadroka is appearing before a court martial next month for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the military commander, Frank Bainimarama, in January this year.

But the Public Service Commission has shortlisted him for the job, saying he's innocent until proven guilty.

However the military says the country's security is at stake.

The land force commander, Col Pita Driti, says the Lt Col's appointment would be a catalyst to coup convicts being freed under the government's contentious Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

"I suspect its going to end up freeing all those political prisoners. Lt Col Baledrokadroka has a brother in law who is a high chief now in prison and security-wise we think that this is not a healthy move by the government at all, given the fact that there could be political agendas behind that."

Col Driti says the military will lobby the government and won't lie down if he's appointed.