21 Feb 2003

Fiji treason trial evidence completed

4:47 pm on 21 February 2003

The last witness in the treason trial of Fiji coup accomplices, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu, has confirmed that both accused were part of George Speight's negotiating team during the hostage crisis.

Nadroga high chief and former senator, Ratu Osea Gavidi, has told the Suva High Court that he was a member of the Great Council of Chiefs team which went to negotiate with Speight who was accompanied by a delegation which included both the accused.

But Ratu Osea indicated that Nata was not happy with the Speight group's demand that Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara be removed as president.

He said this was because Ratu Mara was Nata's paramount chief and Nata owed him traditional allegiance.

Ratu Osea denied state prosecutor Peter Ridgeway's assertion that he had threatened to withdraw the support of western chiefs if Bau high chief and high commissioner to Malaysia, Adi Samanunu Talakuli Cakobau, was not appointed interim prime minister over Laisenia Qarase.

He also denied telling the president that there would be rioting and burning if his request about Adi Samanunu was not met.

The court has now adjourned until March 5th when the prosecution and defence will make their closing addresses.

Justice Andrew Wilson will sum up the case on March 11th.