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Military impose conditions for amnesty

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By Joe Yaya
© USP journalism programme

SUVA: The amnesty offered to Fiji's rebel leader George Speight and his group for the illegal takeover of the Mahendra Chaudhry-led government is tied to conditions laid down by the interim military government.

In a television interview with BBC World last night, Fiji Military Forces spokesman Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini said the amnesty was conditional upon:

* The release of the hostages - believed to number about 30.

* The recovery of all the weapons by the military.

"Their request for amnesty has been automatically met by the army who have stepped in for the sake of the state, but they now are going on to what we believe are their personal agendas," he said.

"Their objectives are met and if they want to compete in the political process, they have to prepare themselves for the elections.

"The amnesty that is being discussed covers the act of the forced entry into Parliament and the capturing of the sitting government. But there is a lot of criminal activities that have happened which will be treated under the new process of law."

On Tuesday, the interim military government gazetted three decrees which abrogated the 1997 constitution, and maintained the civil judicial system and courts.

Earlier in a press conference today, army commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama said: "The amnesty being discussed covers the forceful takeover of government, but not the murder of the policeman."

A police constable was shot near Parliament on Sunday night and later died at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in the first fatal shooting during the 12-day hostage crisis.

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