20 Feb 2003

Fire destroys factory of alleged Fiji coup sponsor

5:17 pm on 20 February 2003

Police in Fiji have begun investigations into a fire in Lautoka which destroyed a factory belonging to a company named in the treason trial for funding the coup of May 2000.

The Ocean Soaps Limited factory was razed to the ground in an overnight blaze which occurred only hours after its owners, Punja and Sons, were named along with C J Patel as having a role in the coup.

The two companies were named by a defence witness who was given immunity from prosecution for his testimony in the Suva trial of coup accomplices, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu.

Both companies have strongly denied any involvement in the coup, saying they themselves suffered large losses as a result of the political upheaval.