16 Jul 2003

Fiji defendant brandishes toy gun in court

10:30 am on 16 July 2003

Fiji coup front man George Speight's cousin, Varinava Tiko, has shocked a magistrates court by brandishing a toy gun during his trial for the forceful takeover of Korovou town during the 2000 coup.

The Fiji Times reports that Tiko produced the pistol-like toy gun from his briefcase while cross-examining a prosecution witness about his knowledge of guns.

Tiko surprised the magistrate and everyone in the court by pointing the gun at the witness and saying "You can only tell if this gun is real if I cock it and shoot one of the prosecution lawyers."

The magistrate warned Tiko and the rest of the accused that they should inform the court beforehand if such material was to be presented in court.

He said if they did not comply they would have their bags searched before they entered the court.

Tiko, his father, Ifireimi Tiko and five other villagers are facing charges of going armed in public, obstruction of public roads, wrongful confinement, unlawful assembly, forcible entry and larceny.

The accused took over the town after seizing weapons from soldiers, allegedly on instructions from parliament where Speight and his gunmen were holding members of the Chaudhry government.