22 Jan 2003

Some Fiji mutiny soldiers seek pardon following cyclone damage

6:14 am on 22 January 2003

Some of the 56 Fiji soldiers who have pleaded guilty to a charge of mutiny at the Labasa army barracks at the height of the May 2000 coup are asking the court martial for a pardon after Cyclone Ami devastated their home islands last week.

Radio Fiji reports that the soldiers have begged the court martial for a pardon so they can go back and see their families who were victims of the cyclone.

31 of the 56 were convicted last week of mutiny against their commanding officer.

The soldiers told the court martial they had heard of cyclone damage to their homes and were concerned about their families.

They said they wanted to carry out their reponsibilities as fathers during the crisis when their wives were shouldering the burden of looking after their families by themselves.

They begged the president of the court martial, Colonel Ilaisa Kacisolomone, to take the plight of their families into consideration before passing sentence.

The sentence will be pronounced later.