31 May 2005

United States suggests Fiji's Speight is terrorist, as parliament readies amnesty law

7:17 am on 31 May 2005

The United States ambassador in Fiji says someone who takes a political leader hostage, beats him up and confines him for weeks on end, is a terrorist.

In a clear reference to the Fiji coup front man, George Speight, David Lyon has told the Fiji Times that a crime is a crime regardless of motivation.

His comments come just ahead of a Bill expected to be tabled in parliament later today to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like Speight.

The Bill is aimed at what the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, describes as politically motivated crimes.

Mr Lyon says a crime is when someone knowingly breaks a law regardless of motivation.

Mr Lyon says a person who robs a bank to fund political advocacy is a bank robber, and an activist who firebombs an abortion clinic is an arsonist.

Mr Lyon says one danger of separating political crimes from what are merely criminal offences, is creating a class of people who haven't committed crimes, but have somehow posed a legitimate threat to their government.