6 Jul 2005

Suva court hears further evidence in trial of aviation minister and three others

10:15 am on 6 July 2005

The Suva High Court has been told that a key prosecution witness in the coup trial of Fiji's minister for civil aviation, Simione Kaitani, and three others was also sworn in as a rebel minister in George Speight's failed administration.

Radio Legend reports that government senator Mitieli Bulanauca, who has been given immunity from prosecution for turning state witness, has admitted in court that he was sworn in together with the accused.

Kaitani, Eroni Lewagai, Levani Tonitonivanua and Viliame Sausauwai are charged with taking an illegal oath to join Speight's failed administration during the coup, for which the maximum penalty is life in prison.

Senator Bulanauca told the High Court that he and the four accused witnessed the first swearing in ceremony a day after the May 19th coup.

Senator Bulanauca said Kaitani was the first to be called in after which he himself was sworn in as the assistant minister for lands in the presence of the usurper president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, and treason convict, Josefa Nata.

Mr Bulanauca said he went home that afternoon, discovered that the then president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara still held office and he sent a resignation letter to Speight and Ratu Mara.

He did not return to parliament.

The trial will continue today.