27 May 2011

Fiji officer may seek asylum in NZ

4:29 am on 27 May 2011

A senior army officer who fled Fiji for Tonga says he may apply to live in New Zealand as early as Friday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tevita Uluilakeba Mara was charged with sedition earlier in May after criticising Commodore Frank Bainimarama's military regime in Fiji and then picked up by the Tongan navy while on bail.

Colonel Mara says he got into trouble while on a fishing trip and the navy helped him out. He believes he would not get a fair hearing in Fiji because he says Commodore Bainimarama interferes with the judiciary.

Fiji has said it will try to extradite him.

Colonel Mara says he may make a formal application to seek asylum in New Zealand and is already in informal discussions. He says is also talking with people in other countries.

Colonel Mara says he would also like his family to move to New Zealand with him.

The New Zealand Government says it has received no application from him yet and if he did apply, it would be evaluated in the usual way.