31 Oct 2005

Fiji man reportedly threatened over Mara kidnap plan revelation

3:06 pm on 31 October 2005

A Fiji martial arts expert who was assigned to kidnap the former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, during the coup says he now fears for his life and those of his family.

Salesi Tuifagalele has told the Fiji Sun that he has been receiving threatening calls from the newly formed Ronin High Risk Security Company headed by the leader of the gunmen who staged the coup, Ilisoni Ligairi.

The former Fiji coup convict, Maciu Navakasuasua, revealed last week that Mr Tuifagalele and another martial arts expert, Jona Vida, were part of the group formed by George Speight to kidnap Ratu Mara.

But the men refused to go along with the plot because both were from the Province of Lau and Ratu Mara was their paramount chief.

Mr Tuifagalele says threats are being made to kill both him and Mr Vida by former Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit soldiers who are now in prison.

He says the imprisoned solders have also warned that they are forming a group outside of prison believed to be the Ronin High Risk Security Company.

Mr Tuifagalele says police had earlier promised to protect them when they had turned state witnesses in coup trials and now that threats have again surfaced, he hopes police will keep their word.

Mr Tuifagalele says they are worried about their families who need protection.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, says they need to get to the bottom of the threats before they can comment.