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Viti Fm Reporter Harassed By Rebels

By Alison Ofotalau

SUVA (PMW): A Communications Fiji Ltd radio reporter came close to being beaten up by rebel supporters of coup leader George Speight, a radio station has reported.

Radio Fiji reported on 9 June 2000 that Malakai Veisamasama, team leader of Viti FM, sister station of FM96, said the mob mistook him for a reporter for the state-owned Radio Fiji.

According to USP journalism graduate Emily Moli, it could not be established what the mob "has got against Radio Fiji reporters".

But Veisamasama said if it had not been for the timely intervention of one of Speight's armed guards, he would have been bashed up.

Veisamasama told Radio Fiji that he was taken aback by the incident given that he had been one of the few local journalists that had been regularly visiting Parliament.

He said that when he entered the complex to cover Speight's news conference yesterday afternoon, a man singled him out and wanted to know whether he was Samasoni Pareti, one of Radio Fiji's reporters who had been regularly covering Speight's camp in Parliament.

When Veisamasama said he was not Pareti, the man wanted to know whether he was Mika Loga, another Radio Fiji reporter. The man then accused Veisamasama of lying and the man and others started to close in on him.

Veisamasama said the man apologised when he realised his mistake.

Speight's self-appointed deputy leader Ratu Timoci Silatolu confirmed the incident to Radio Fiji.

Silatolu said he went to see the group of men after the incident and explained to them the importance of letting journalists do their work without harassment.

+++niuswire

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