20 Feb 2003

Fiji police say no evidence found to identify coup backers

11:48 am on 20 February 2003

Fiji police say there is no evidence to prosecute companies and individuals accused of financing or colluding in, the the May 2000 coup.

At the treason trial of coup accomplices Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu now under way, a defence witness said George Speight had told them Indian-owned companies, CJ Patel and Punja's, would finance the coup.

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

But the acting police commissioner, Moses driver, has issued a statement saying investigations begun after the coup are still continuing and there is no evidence to substantiate the allegations against the companies and individuals alleged to have financed the takeover.

The police response came after the prime minister deposed in the coup, Mahendra Chaudhry, told parliament he had given a statement to police in November 2000 naming the companies.

And the opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, told parliament the government must act quickly and decisively to investigate allegations against Col Savua because he now represents the whole country as ambassador to the United Nations.