19 Sep 2007

Fiji civilian sues military for damages caused by stray bullet

10:36 am on 19 September 2007

A civilian who claims to have been hit by a stray bullet during the November 2000 Fiji army mutiny is suing for damages.

The Fiji Times reports that James Pillay claims that he was waiting for a taxi in Helson Street, Samabula, when he was hit in the abdomen by a stray bullet from the gun battle at the army camp 4km away.

Mr Pillay has taken legal action against the military and the attorney general.

He claims the military was responsible for the stray bullet by not keeping its weapons safe and allowing them to fall into the hands of the mutineers of the now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit.

A consultant surgeon who gave evidence in yesterday's hearing, Dr Fred Merchant, testified that he had examined Mr Pillay on several occasions since 2000, that the hole in his abdomen was consistent with that of a bullet and that the bullet was not removed.

The military claims that the actions of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit soldiers were a criminal act not performed in the course of their duties and they should be held responsible.

Justice Roger Coventry will first determine liability before considering the question of damages.