7 Nov 2002

Fiji government minister apologises for his role in the May 2000 coup

11:22 am on 7 November 2002

A Fiji government minister who was recently refused a United States visa for his role in the May 2000 coup has apologised for the pain and suffering it caused, particualrly to the hostages held for 56 days.

The Daily Post quotes the assistant minister in the prime minister's office, Simeone Kaitani, as saying what he did at the height of the crisis was for the sake of the nation.

Mr Kaitani says his personal involvement was in order to move the crisis forward to an amicable solution.

Mr Kaitani says he personally sought forgiveness from one of the ministers held hostage, Lavenia Padarath, who was deposed in the coup.

Mrs Padarath hit out at Mr Kaitani this week, saying the hostages had heard him on a loudspeaker inciting people with false information on issues such as land and indigenous leadership and publicly supporting George Speight.

Mrs Padarath said Mr Kaitani was sworn in as a minister in the failed Speight administration, had enjoyed himself in parliament during the coup and was a disgrace as a member now.