30 Jul 2004

Fiji vice president says his coup role was joke

3:19 pm on 30 July 2004

Fiji vice-president Seniloli has told the Suva High Court that being sworn in as president in George Speight's failed administration during the coup was just a joke.

Radio Legend reports that Seniloli said this in an un-sworn statement which means that he cannot be questioned by prosecution lawyers.

Seniloli said he was in parliament during the coup to protect the hostage prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and his son Rajendra, whom the rebels wanted to execute first.

Seniloli said if he and the other five accused in the treason trial had not played their parts in calming down Speight, the men would not be alive today.

All the accused gave un-sworn statements and said the oaths were a joke and described Speight as unstable, highly volatile and out of hand.

A Radio Fiji report says Seniloli also told the court he agreed to become the president during the coup because he wanted to reinstate the Chaudhry government.

Radio Fiji says sports minister Leweniqila told the court, Speight told them the oath taking ceremony was just a show to appease the crowds gathered in parliament.