7 Apr 2004

Trial of Fiji senator told soldiers were given orders to shoot him during a confrontation

8:24 am on 7 April 2004

The trial of a Fiji government senator who seized a military checkpoint near Nadi airport during the coup has been told soldiers had orders to shoot him and his followers.

Senator Apisai Tora, who became a minister in the post-coup interim administration, and eleven villagers are facing charges of unlawful assembly for the takeover of the checkpoint.

A military prosecution witness, Major Sitiveni Tukaituraga, has told the Nadi magistrate's court that he had ordered his soldiers to open fire on a one hundred strong crowd led by Tora if the forcefully tried to seize their weapons.

The crowd was swearing and shouting at the soldiers in a tense stand-off.

Major Tukaituraga said he himself was prepared to shoot Tora and had armed his pistol.

He said Tora approached him, shook his hand and informed him they wanted to take over the checkpoint to support Ratu Josefa Iloilo who was being nominated for the presidency to succeed Ratu Mara who had been removed.

The trial will continue on June 1st.