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FIJI: Rebels held on island prison

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SUVA: From kings to prisoners, Fiji's rebel leader George Speight and seven of his ringleaders got a taste of their own medicine when they were transported to Nukulau Island before dawn yesterday, the Sunday Post reports.

The military confirmed the group were relocated from the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Nabua where the rebels had been detained since Wednesday night.

Nukulau and nearby Makuluva islands, popular fishing and recreation places about 15 km from Suva, were gazetted as temporary "prison zones" and have been declared out of bounds to the public.

The Sunday Times said in an editorial: "The security forces have made a sensible decision to isolate rebel leader George Speight and his mates to an off-shore island.

"It is a wise security and safety strategy - both for Speight's group and the guards. The military headquarters at Nabua is too close to his supporters."

The newspaper appealed to women, children and the elderly who had been supporting the rebel "cause" to go home and not "allow themselves to be dragged into illegal activities".

In other developments:

* Armed soldiers provided security in the Naitasiri rugby union clash with Suva at the National Stadium yesterday to prevent a possible repeat of 1995 when fans mobbed the Suva side at the same venue.

Speight's support mostly comes from Naitasiri province. Naitasiri defeated Suva 24-10 to retain its place at the top of the Telecom Cup rugby championship.

* The state of emergency period was extended for a further two weeks.

* Rebels occupying Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa, on Vanua Levu, were given a deadline by the military of midnight tonight to surrender arms and leave.

Military spokesman Major Howard Politini told the Sunday Post that the only people allowed on the prison islands were the military, police and Red Cross.

The two islands off Suva Point were declared prison zones in a legal notice published yesterday.

Other rebels held with Speight include lawyer Tevita Bukarau, media adviser Jo Nata, Lieutenant-Colonel Rusiate Korovusere, Major Jo Savua, former Fiji Intelligence Service Colonel Metuisela Mua, Ratu Timoci Silatolu and military strategist Colonel Ilisoni Ligairi.

A source on the island said a fence was built around the area where the group were being held.

Tents were put up inside the enclosure to accommodate the rebels.

+++niuswire

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