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Fiji: Police Eye Journalists In Labasa Probe

Pacific Media Watch Online:

http://www.pmw.c2o.org

SUVA: Fiji Islands police will investigate two journalists based in the northern town of Labasa and businessmen in the wake of the insurrection which has embroiled the Pacific country in the past three months, the Fiji Sun reports.

A senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed this over the recent unrest on the northern island of Vanua Levu yesterday. The newspaper did not name the journalists.

"The two journalists had been in close association with the rebels. They were seen socialising and also seen in stolen vehicles driven by rebels carrying arms on numerous occasions," he said.

"The law enforcement agencies have a fair knowledge of their involvement and the journalists will have to do a lot of explaining because of associating themselves on the record," the officer said.

The officer maintained that there had been sufficient information which police required questioning the duo. But police needed more time before questioning them.

"Not at this stage but certainly in due course. The allegations are serious and we are still trying to establish the motive behind the close association of the rebels and the journalists," he said.

"Some businessmen are also believed to be directly or indirectly involved with the recent developments on Vanua Levu," he added.

The first phase of investigations saw the arrest and charges laid against mutinous soldiers and rebels.

The second phase of investigations would be aimed at people who had secretly supported the rebels and worked behind the scenes. These included police officers, business people and chiefs.

* The rebel insurrection which began on May 19 continued on Vanua Levu for some time after rebel spokesman George Speight and his key ringleaders were arrested on the main island of Viti Levu on July 26 and they have since been charged with treason.

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE: http://www.pmw.c2o.org

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

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