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FIJI: Speight may face treason charge

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By Mithleshni Gurdayal USP Journalism graduate on the Daily Post

SUVA: Rebel leader George Speight and his supporters may be charged for the act of treason after they were detained at the Fiji military barracks in Suva yesterday.

More than detained 360 rebels and their supporters are expected to appear in court today on charges after the raid on the rebel stronghold at a Suva school.

Military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini said the arrest of the group was made after interim President Ratu Josefa Iloilo's life was threatened.

"Ratu Iloilo was warned that if he didn't agree to a certain cabinet line-up then further instability will take place around the country and that his very own life will be under threat," Tarakinikini said.

He explained that for the Head of State to be pressured and put under duress to name a certain cabinet line-up can be see as an act of treason.

Tarakinikini said the matter had to be fully investigated before any charges could be laid.

He said the investigation had begun and he gave an assurance that everybody would get a fair trial and fair hearing in order to preserve justice.

"I must emphasise that due process of law will take place. They are citizens of the country and they will be treated just like other citizens.

"Their case won't be prejudiced based on the crisis that started on May 19," he said.

Tarakinini said it was unfortunate that the Muanikau Accord that was signed two weeks ago with Speight was not being followed.

"The accord had all the seeds for the solution to the crisis if it was to be implemented in the spirit of trust," he said.

"We granted them immunity through the decree but not all weapons that were to be returned to the armoury have been returned and we find it totally unacceptable because as long as tghe weapons are there, they continue to be used to instill fear and insecurity into our citizens."

On the nature of the threat made to the President, Tarakinikini said the military could not divulge any information until the full circumstances surrounding the threat was investigated.

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