24 Jun 2005

Fiji's Speight wants to stay clear of immunity bill debate

3:27 pm on 24 June 2005

The Fiji coup front man and treason convict, George Speight, has asked through his spokesman that his name not be used in the debate on the Qarase government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Daily Post reports that the message has been conveyed through his brother and the minister for lands, Samisoni Tikonisau.

Mr Tikonisau says Speight has told him that he committed treason, pleaded guilty, accepted the court verdict and was paying the price for it.

Mr Tikonisau says "the Bill is not for George" and it is premature to argue if Speight is going to make use of it to seek freedom.

He says his pro-coup Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua had not pressured the prime minister to come up with such legislation, adding that it was Mr Qarase's initiative "to take Fiji forward and find solutions to long-standing problems."

The Bill will set up a Commission to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.