8 May 2003

Fiji vice president faces coup related charges

3:58 pm on 8 May 2003

Fiji's Vice President, Ratu Jope Seniloli, has appeared in the Suva Magistrate's Court charged with serious coup related offences.

Ratu Jope has been charged with one count of taking an unlawful oath to commit a capital offence and one count of engaging in a seditious enterprise.

The charges relate to Ratu Jope being sworn in as the usurper president immediately after the May 2000 coup when Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was still in office.

Also in court charged with the same offences as the Vice President were the Minister for Sports, Isireli Leweniqila, former MP Peceli Rinakama, former army officer Lt Col Viliame Volavola and jailed nationalist, Viliame Savu.

No plea was taken when the charges were read out.

The Chief Magistrate, David Balram, has released the accused on bail of five thousand US dollars each and ordered them to surrender their passports.

They will reappear in court on June 11th.

More than 100 police surrounded the courts this morning to provide security as the accused appeared.