19 Apr 2005

Revelations in Fiji about coup cash bribe

10:19 am on 19 April 2005

Fresh revelations have been made in Fiji about the cash offered to a senior army officer to support the Speight coup.

Fiji TV has televised documents which it says reveal details of Fiji currency worth US$156,000, which had been offered to the-then commander of the third Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment, Lt Col Viliame Seruvakula.

Lt Col Seruvakula had told Fiji media before he left to join New Zealand army in 2001 that he'd been offered the cash to take his troops to support the coup.

Fiji TV says the document it showed last night was the statement Lt Col Seruvakula gave to Assistant Superintendent of Police Aisea Tabakau in New Zealand on July 24th, 2003.

In it Lt Col Seruvakula says the money was sent to him with a note which read: "The future of the indigenous is now in your hands - it is now or never."

The money had lain in his office for two days when a male voice telephoned him to ask whether he would accept it.

Lt Col Seruvakula threatened to burn the money in front the TV cameras that evening.

He was then asked to leave the cash at a designated drop-off point at Flagstaff, not far from parliament where it was picked up by a car.

Fiji TV says for legal reasons it can't name the people whom the army officer alleges were supporting the events in parliament in which the Chaudhry government was overthrown.