10 Nov 2006

Fiji court opens Rabuka mutiny case

4:14 pm on 10 November 2006

The trial of the former Fiji prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, on two charges of inciting mutiny has begun with the Suva High Court hearing how he aspired to get back into a position of authority after losing power in the 1999 election.

Lead prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC of Australia told the court Rabuka allegedly attempted to incited Lt Col Viliame Seruvakula to overthrow the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, on or about the 4th of July and then the 2nd of November in 2000.

Radio Legend quotes Mr Tedeschi as saying the incitement might not have been successful but it was a crime in itself as mutiny is an act where a person tells another to remove a constitutionally appointed authority by threat of force.

He said from 1987 to 1999 Rabuka held very powerful positions and after he lost the prime minister's position in 1999 he was appointed as the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Mr Tedeschi said Rabuka became fed up of being a second player and after the coup in May 2000 he met the president along with the acting army commander and the commissioner of police.

He then proposed to the president, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, to appoint him as the army commander but his proposal was declined.

Mr Tedeschi told the court that at another meeting nine days later, Rabuka asked the president to appoint him as the interim prime minister but this request was also declined.

Mr Tedeschi said Rabuka then contacted Lt Col Seruvakula on the 4th of July and asked him to remove Commodore Bainimarama from the commander's position.

He said such words coming from a former prime minister and military commander were very serious.

The trial is being heard by Justice Gerard Winter assisted by three assessors.