12 Mar 2008

Ousted Fiji PM Qarase denies asking for foreign military help in face of coup

3:18 pm on 12 March 2008

Fiji's ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has told a court looking at the legality of the 2006 coup that he didn't ask for outside military intervention.

Mr Qarase has taken the witness stand after the lawyers acting for the interim government had earlier argued that there was no case to answer.

Our correspondent, Matelita Ragogo, says the lawyer acting for the interim government, Gerard Mc Coy, repeatedly asked the ousted prime minister whether he had called for outside military help to combat the Fiji armed forces.

She says Mr Qarase denied making any such request.

"He admitted speaking with Helen Clark and John Howard but it was in his capacity as chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum and he said 'as the chair I needed to brief the two prime ministers of the events as they were unfolding'."

Matelita Ragogo