28 Jan 2006

Fiji woman acquitted on charge of stealing top secret state documents

8:16 am on 28 January 2006

The Suva High Court has acquitted a 43-year old woman charged with stealing or receiving top secret state documents.

When searched last year, Mele Afu, 43, had with her secret command diaries from the military's Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit which carried out the 2000 coup.

There were also minutes of National Security Council meetings, contingency security plans for Nadi Airport and marine ports, and other such documents.

She said they were given to her by a soldier at parliament during the Speight coup and only realised their nature when she read them on her island later.

Ms Afu said she did not return the papers because she feared for her life.

Magistrate Gulab Ajmal Khan said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against her and noted that no one had reported the secret documents missing.

He acquitted Ms Afu, but said that changes in the law were needed because if such documents fell into the wrong hands, they could be a threat to national security and cause irreparable damage.