6 Feb 2003

Fiji coup accomplice denies serving as media man for coup leader George Speight

7:11 am on 6 February 2003

One of the two Fiji coup accomplices charged with treason, Josefa Nata, says he went into parliament to get the hostages released.

In the Suva High Court, Nata made particular mention of Adi Koila Nailatikau, a Chaudhry government minister who was the daughter of the then president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Nata said when he went into parliament shortly after the coup, George Speight asked him whether he wanted a job but he refused.

He said the current deputy speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, the lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, the minister for sport, Isireli Leweniqila, and the assistant minister in the prime minister's office, Simione Kaitani were present during this conversation.

Nata said he took part in the swearing in ceremony of Speight's failed administration because he was asked to minutes before it started, and because he was told the hostages would be released shortly afterwards.

He said he never wanted an illegal government after the coup.

Nata said he was hurt when a few days after the coup he was at a meeting in parliament when abuse was hurled at the then president and Lau chief, Ratu Mara.

The high profile spokesman for the coup who made numerous statements to local and overseas journalists, denied he was Speight's media man.

State prosecutor, Peter Ridgeway, will cross examine Nata today.