5 Jul 2004

Fiji army colonel could be charged with desertion or being AWOL

9:32 pm on 5 July 2004

Fiji's military will charge the controversial army officer Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini either with desertion or being absent without official leave.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni has told Radio Legend that the senior officer will be arrested once he arrives in the country.

The officer tried to resign from New York but this was rejected by the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court.

Captain Leweni says as a regular officer the Lt Col is still in the ranks of the military and like any soldier who deserts or goes absent without leave, the military has the powers to arrest him, lock him up and let the military law take its course.

Meanwhile military lawyers are drafting the legal papers to charge Lt Col Tarakinikini.

The officer is wanted in Fiji to answer allegations about his alleged involvement in the army mutiny in November 2000 which was aimed at assassinating Commodore Bainimarama and freeing George Speight.