4 Mar 2004

Fiji opposition leader rejects Jim Speight's claims on coup background

2:42 pm on 4 March 2004

Fiji's opposition leader has rejected a claim by the recently released coup convict, Jim Speight, denying the involvement of business people in funding and supporting the May 2000 coup.

Mick Beddoes says Jim Speight's comments are totally inappropriate considering he had the opportunity to make them during his trial but didn't.

Mr Beddoes says Jim Speight should be thankful he received a relatively light sentence for an act of treason which would draw a death sentence in many countries.

Furthermore, Mr Beddoes says evidence points towards the involvement of business people in the Coup.

He says no one has challenged former military officer Lt. Col Seruvakula's claim that soldiers were offered large sums of money to support the coup.

"And so I think it's inappropriate for him to make any further comment. He had the opportunity to make all these comments and accusations during his trial. The fact that he didn't make it then means that to say it now holds no water at all."

Mick Beddoes