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'Tale Of Horror' Deaths Shatter Military Rep

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'Tale Of Horror' Deaths Shatter Military Reputation

* See earlier reports online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/nius3087shoot.html

Staff Reporters USP's Pacific Journalism Online

SUVA: Execution-style killings of unarmed Fijian soldiers during last week's mutiny have led to bitterness and tension in the military, reports the Fiji Times.

And the newspaper said in an editorial today a "tale of horror" had taken place in a military force known around the world for its integrity and honour.

"That reputation today is in tatters," the newspaper said.

According to the Fiji Times, one soldier was killed while he slept. Another was shot dead as he sat at his desk.

Three regular soldiers were murdered by members of the counter revolutionary warfare (CRW) unit as they tried to take over the national operations centre at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in the outer Suva suburb of Nabua.

Five rebel soldiers were later killed when loyalist forces recaptured the military camp and the army has been accused of brutality.

Military spokesman Major Howard Politini was quoted by the newspaper as saying hurt was inevitable after the killing of the three loyal soldiers by members of the CRW unit.

"It is a sad situation - one our military was not trained for. To combat internally. But here we're seeing our own soldiers kill at random indiscriminately," he said.

The newspaper cited the three loyalist soldiers' deaths:

Private Jone Veilewai, married with two children, was shot in the forehead while sitting at his desk at the 3rd Fiji Islands Regiment's (3FIR) orderly room. He was unarmed.

Lance Corporal Simione Rawaileba, who was part of the mobile reserve unit, was also shot in the head while sleeping.

Private Orisi Rokosirinavosa was shot in the head while trying to secure the national operation centre.

Major Politini said all three men died instantly.

In its editorial, the Fiji Times said disturbing facts had emerged over the manner in which the CRW rebels were alleged to have murdered regular soldiers.

"One was even killed as he slept," the paper said.

"This distressing information will send a wave of horror through the whole community and goes some way towards explaining the army's brutal attitude to the CRW soldiers who have been captured.

"Most if not all have been badly beaten by their captors.

"At the same time, most Fiji Islanders will find it all but impossible to believe that a Fijian soldier could murder not only a fellow Fijian but a fellow soldier in cold blood.

"These men had no opportunity to defend themselves. They were unarmed and unwarned.

"They were executed."

Also writing in the Fiji Times, columnist Sir Vijay Singh, a former attorney-general, said the mutiny was a further sign of "a fundamental failing that a growing element of our society suffers from - disrespect for law and conventions that should govern one's conduct".

"Evidence to this effect has been mounting," Singh wrote.

"Roadblocks denying access to pine forests and tourist resorts, commandeering of water and electricity supply installations and hotels and schools and government buildings are examples of lawless escapades undertaken in the belief, not always altogether misplaced, that one is above the law and will get away without punishment."

Meanwhile, the treason case hearing against May coup leader George Speight and 13 rebel leaders was deferred from yesterday until tomorrow and will be heard in a special Magistrates Court sitting will be held on the prison island of Nukulau off Suva.

Magistrate Aminiasi Katonivualiku ruled the accused were not to be brought to Suva for security reasons in the wake of the mutiny.

+++niuswire


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