11 Nov 2004

Fiji senator tried to discredit witnesses, court told

10:11 am on 11 November 2004

The Australian defence lawyer for a Fiji government senator charged with inciting and aiding in the November 2000 mutiny has been accused of trying to discredit prosecution witnesses.

Two state witnesses, Metuisela Turagacati and Jale Kadi, who were closely connected with organising the mutiny, have been giving evidence against Ratu Inoke Takiveikata in return for immunity from prosecution.

Radio Fiji reports that the lawyer, Gabriel Wendler, has accused the two witnesses of collusion and lying because each has corroborated the other's statements.

The radio says Mr Wendler has refused to accept that the similarities in their statements are so because they were together in most of the events leading up to the mutiny.

Instead he has accused the witnesses of being in cahoots to cause the downfall of Takiveikata who is the paramount chief of Naitasiri province.

Takiveikata is charged with four counts of inciting and one count of aiding in the mutiny which caused eight deaths and more than 30 injuries.

He faces a maximum of life in prison if found guilty.