3 Feb 2003

Chiefs Chairman talks about accountability over 2000 coup

9:47 am on 3 February 2003

The chairman of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs says chiefs implicated in the May 2000 coup and its aftermath should be thoroughly investigated and brought to justice.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau has told the Fiji Times that nobody is immune from prosecution and chiefs ought not to be treated differently from ordinary citizens by law enforcement authorities.

He was reacting to statements by the Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, that some dishonest chiefs were among those responsible for the coup and the country's instability.

Ratu Epeli says he does not take offence at the statement and the legal process should be followed against the chiefs implicated.

He says culture and tradition should not impede the work of investigators, no matter how highly a chief is placed.

Fiji's opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has also backed calls for the investigation of chiefs and other influential people, saying that keeping silent would give legitimacy to their corrupt and dishonest practices.