5 Sep 2002

Defence lawyer says Fiji court martial has only heard part of evidence from mutiny leader

10:18 am on 5 September 2002

Past and present Fiji government ministers and senior public officials are alleged to have been involved in the November 2000 mutiny which claimed eight lives.

Fiji TV reports that the allegation has been made by Rabo Matebalavu, the defence lawyer for the 15 soldiers facing court martial for the mutiny.

Mr Matebalavu told the court that his client, Captain Shane Stevens, had told the police much more than what was read out in his statement this week.

He asked for the tape of the conversation with Stevens but the police prosecutor said it had been erased after it was transcribed.

Mr Matebalavu has accused the police of protecting people in high places.

He added that the police statement did not include details of a meeting between the police commissioner, Col Isikia Savua, Commander Lesi and Col Baledrokadroka just before the uprising.

Of the names given by Stevens, the only ones read out in the court martial were those of government senator, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka and two senior military officers.

Mr Matebalavu says when the court martial resumes on Tuesday, he will submit that his clients have no case to answer,.