19 Nov 2002

Fiji PM and army commander reportedly threatened after mutiny trial

11:17 am on 19 November 2002

The lives of Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the army commander, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama, are reported to be under threat following the conviction and sentencing of 15 soldiers for staging the November 2000 mutiny.

Th Fiji Sun newspaper says the threat has been confirmed by a police intelligence officer.

The officer, who did not want to be named, said the police intelligence unit knows the people behind the threat and is not taking it lightly.

The group behind the threat had wanted the court to pardon those convicted of the mutiny which left eight people dead.

The unnamed officer said last Friday there was a strong lobby at the meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs to instruct the military to apologise to the coup front man, George Speight's home province of Tailevu for their actions against the rebels at the height of the post-coup insurrection.

Speight's brother and government MP, Samisoni Tikonisau, told parliament yesterday that armed soldiers had brutally attacked, beaten and abused unarmed indigenous Fijians.

Mr Tikonisau said the military's actions had resulted in the mutiny and the court martial.

A plot to kidnap the prime minister and the army commander early this year was foiled when police arrested those behind it.

They were later released by Suva magistrate Salesi Temo.