28 Jan 2003

Fiji pair charged with treason said to have turned down a plea bargain offer by the state

7:55 am on 28 January 2003

Two Fiji coup accomplices, Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata, who are on trial for treason, are reported to have rejected a plea bargain offered by the state.

The Daily Post newspaper says the two were offered seven years in jail by the office of the director of public prosecutions if they pleaded guilty to the treason charge.

But Silatolu and Nata rejected the offer, seeking instead a far lighter sentence claiming they had played a minimal role in the coup.

When no better offer was made, Silatolu and Nata decided to stand trial as they believed there were many prominent people present in parliament during the coup who had been part of the takeover but who had not been charged with any crime.

A source close to the two is quoted as saying they refused to accept the plea bargain as they believed they should walk free once the trial finished because of the time they have spent on remand.

Meanwhile, Silatolu's lawyer has told the High Court his client was present in parliament to protect members of the Chaudhry government who were held hostage at gunpoint.

The trial will resume today with two government ministers and the deputy speaker of parliament expected to be among the defence witnesses.