28 Nov 2006

Rabuka on fresh trial for inciting mutiny

7:22 am on 28 November 2006

The former Fiji prime minister and 1987 coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, is back in the Suva High Court to face a fresh trial on two charges of inciting a mutiny in 2000 to overthrow the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Rabuka has again pleaded not guilty after his first trial was declared a mistrial by Justice Gerard Winter.

The principal witness against Rabuka, Lt Col Viliame Seruvakula who is now a United Nations employee in Afghanistan, told the court that in May 2000 he was commander of the Third Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment.

In this role his main task to provide assistance to the police to maintain law and order and prior to May the 19th his battalion had taken measures in case there was a coup.

Lt Col Seruvakula said whatever measures his troops took needed the approval of the police commissioner which was not given.

He said Rabuka had set up the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit troops from which staged the coup.

Lt Col Seruvakula said on the day of the coup, Rabuka had asked him whether he had spoken with George Speight to which he replied NO.

He said the following day he received information that the military commander was going to be snatched on arrival at Nadi Airport and he arranged two teams of soldiers to escort Commodore Bainimarama to Suva for a meeting with the then president.

The trial will resume this morning.