Tame Iti In Fiji Bomb Scare
New Zealand Maori Activist Tame Iti has been caught up in a bomb scare while trying to enter Fiji to show his support for coup leader George Speight. An Air New Zealand 767 plane was delayed after a bomb threat was made to staff at Fiji's Nadi airport. The plane was carrying Mr. Iti and his supporters back to New Zealand after they had earlier been refused entry by Fijian authorities. The plane has since been cleared to leave.
Following is a full transcript on the story from Fiji's internet news site www.fijilive.com.
Rejected Maori group returns in bomb threat
AN Air New Zealand plane, carrying 10 Maori supporters of hostage taker George Speight, bound for Auckland yesterday returned to Nadi Airport for security measures.
An airline official said from Nadi that the plane returned for safety reasons and didn't wished to comment any further on the incident.
However, it is believed there was a bomb threat on the aircraft. The Maori delegation are believed to be detained at the Nadi International Airport Immigration Department. Later they boarded the next available flight for New Zealand. Group leader Tame Iti said they were in the country for unconditional assistance to George Speight, which included financial assistance in his fight for indigenous rights.
"I believe that there was a bomb threat which forced the plane to return shortly after it took off," said Nicklas Kiddle, the Deputy High Commissioner of New Zealand to Fiji. "The Maori supporters were found ineligible in the country for which they were forced to return back.
"The immigration department carefully carried out their eligibility in the country, as they came with a tourist visa and their intention was to enter the parliament in support for George Speight which was found ineligible by the immigration department and the military. "It solely depends on the Fiji
Government to either accept them in the country or not so there is no question of New Zealand Government intervention in this process," said Mr Kiddle.
Army spokesman in the Western Division, Lieutenant
Colonel Henry Manualevu said his men were deployed on the
plane. But he could not elaborate. However, he confirmed
that there was a bomb threat. "The plane which landed at
4.10pm was being thoroughly checked by army explosive
experts," said Colonel Manualevu.
- Source Fiji Daily Post