19 Feb 2003

Fiji treason trial witness says coup funded by two ethnic Indian companies

5:29 am on 19 February 2003

The Suva high court has been told that two ethnic Indian companies financed the May 2000 coup.

The revelation was made by a defence witness in the treason trial of coup accomplices, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu.

The witness, Salesi Tuifagalele, named the companies as C J Patel and Punja's.

Tuifagalele is a former soldier of the army's Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit which carried out the coup and the Suva mutiny six months later.

He has been given immunity from prosecution in return for information.

Tuifagalele told the court that a day before the coup, the front man George Speight told them that the two companies would finance the coup.

Tuifagalele also said Speigth told them not to worry if the coup wasn't a success because he had already discussed the issue with the police commissioner, Colonel Isikia Savua, and the commissioner of prisons, Aisea Taoka.

He said Speight had promised that those who took part in the coup would get secure jobs for life and a pension.