26 Oct 2002

Verdict in Fiji mutiny trial expected next week

9:13 am on 26 October 2002

The military panel presiding over the court martial of 15 Fiji soldiers charged with the November 2000 mutiny will deliver its verdict next week.

Radio Fiji says this follows yesterday's summing up of the evidence given during the 15 month trial by the judge advocate, Justice Sadal.

The radio says in his 158 page summary, Justice Sadal told the panel to consider the consistency and inconsistency of statements given during the hearings.

He told the military panel that the soldiers who part in the mutiny were not compellede to do what they did because they were given the option to leave.

Justice sadal also questioned why the mutiny leader, Captain Shane Stevens, was taking orders from Col Vatu when he said his unit came directly under the army commander.

The president of the court martial, Colonel IIaisa Kacisolomone, said because of the number of charges involved, the panel will need time to consider each and every case individually.

If found guilty of mutiny, the soldiers face the death penalty.

But Fiji's Attorney General, Qoriniasi Bale, is on record as saying that the president, as commander in chief of the military, could commute the death sentence to one of life imprisonment.