17 Mar 2003

Writ from Fiji coup hostages denmounced by Government

3:28 pm on 17 March 2003

Fiji's Information Minister, Simione Kaitani, has denounced a High Court writ filed by MPs deposed in the May 2000 coup claiming over 30 million US dollars in damages.

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

Among those named as defendants in the writ are the coup front man, George Speight, the leader of his gunmen, Ilisoni Ligairi, the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and the former police commissioner, Col Isikia Savua and others.

But Mr Kaitani says the writ is a slap in the face for the process of reconciliation and is taking Fiji backwards.

The Daily Post quotes Mr Kaitani saying the writ is unbecoming of the Labour Party which says it wants to take the country forward.

He says the Government is prepared to face the writ and it is not a matter they will shy away from.

Mr Kaitani says despite criticism from indigenous Fijians about the punishment being meted out to those involved in the coup, the government has allowed the law to takes its course.