14 Mar 2003

MPs held hostage in Fiji coup file $35m claim against their captors

11:57 am on 14 March 2003

A group of Fiji members of parliament held hostage in the May 2000 coup have filed a writ in the High Court claiming more than 35 million US dollars in damages.

The former MPs are claiming damages for kidnapping, assault and battery, and false imprisonment as well as for loss of salary and parliamentary allowances, loss of pensions and property.

Among the defendants named in the writ are coup front man George Speight and the leader of his gunmen, Ilisoni Ligairi, who are both currently serving prison sentences on Nukulau Island for their roles in the coup.

Another group of defendants are the six army gunmen who entered parliament on the morning of the coup armed with pistols and automatic weapons, took MPs hostage and threatened to shoot them if they attempted to escape.

The writ also names army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama and former police commissioner, Col Isikia Savua.

Both men are alleged to have known of the conspiracy but failed to take any steps to prevent it.

The writ also says Col Savua failed to exercise emergency powers proclaimed by the president to secure the keeping of the peace within the nation.