27 May 2011

Ratu Mara says he may decide as early as tomorrow to seek sanctuary in New Zealand

7:35 am on 27 May 2011

A senior army officer who fled Fiji for Tonga says he may apply to live in some other country, including New Zealand, as early as tomorrow.

Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, was this month charged with sedition by the interim Fiji government, and fled to Tonga, saying he would not get a fair trial in Fiji.

Tonga's attorney general has confirmed it's received an extradition request from Fiji.

Colonel Mara says he may make a formal application to seek asylum, possibly in New Zealand, and is already in informal discussions.

"I'm seriously considering that at the moment. I've just been talking to a few other people in other countries as well, but certainly New Zealand is being considered in the mix of where I may choose to go after Tonga."

Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Mara says he would also like to take his family with him.

And Tonga's acting attorney general says there is no rush to examine the extradition application.

Samiu Vaipulu says the application is a large box, which will take some time to sort through.

It will have to go through due process, through the court system, through what our extradition act provides. That's what we will follow. This is an issue that will need time to look at things properly. We don't have to rush.

Samiu Vaipulu says he is working with the solicitor general's office over the application