16 Sep 2008

Qarase lodges treason complaint

6:28 pm on 16 September 2008

Fiji's ousted prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has lodged a treason complaint against dozens of people who played a role in the 2006 military coup that resulted in his government being thrown out of office.

Mr Qarase said he made the complaint on Monday and would consider taking the case to the International Criminal Court if it was not investigated properly.

"We have done our bit, and it is now up to police to process the complaint in accordance with the law," he said. "We believe that those people who planned and executed the coup, and all those associated with it, should face the full brunt of the law and account for themselves."

Mr Qarase was prime minister in December 2006 when a bloodless coup led by army commander Frank Bainimarama forced him out of office.

Commodore Bainimarama appointed himself prime minister and continues to rule the country.

Mr Qarase said about 20 past and present ministers in the military administration running Fiji were named in the treason complaint, as were more than a dozen military members, including Commodore Bainimarama.

He said he hoped Police Commissioner Esala Teleni would step aside from the investigation because he was also named in the complaint.

There have been reports that Mr Teleni had directed police not to investigate the treason case.

A court case brought by Mr Qarase to determine the legality of the military coup ended in March, but the High Court is yet to deliver a verdict.

Interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum described the treason complain as a gimmick. "It's a stunt because Qarase and his lawyers are fully aware that the matters are before the courts."