24 Aug 2007

Former Fiji MPs offer to settle claims against 2000 coup organisers out of court

9:58 am on 24 August 2007

Members of the Fiji Labour Party coalition government who are claiming compensation for their detention and torture during the 2000 Speight coup are reported to be willing to make a settlement out of court.

The compensation claim was initiated four years ago by the Labour Party leader and current interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and four other members of his deposed government.

They are claiming compensation from the coup front man, George Speight, fellow treason convict Timoci Silatolu, the state, the attorney general, the military and the former police commissioner, Col Isikia Savua.

The case was called for a pre-trial conference in the Suva High Court before Justice Gerard Winter yesterday.

Outside the court, the plaintiffs' lawyer, Vipul Mishra, confirmed they are trying to reach an out of court settlement.

Mr Mishra said Justice Winter had advised that Speight and Silatolu should be part of the settlement process despite both of them being unable to pay any compensation.

The case will be called again next Friday.

The Fiji Sun reports that 27 other hostages taken in the 2000 coup including the interim minister for sport, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, have filed separate compensation claims which are pending before the High Court.