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5 Given Suspended Sentences For Monasavu Takeover

Issue No: 282 12 December 2000

Five terrorists taking over the Fiji Electricity Authority's Monasavu operations during the second week of July have pleaded guilty and given suspended sentences by the Suva Magistrates Court.

The 5 were a group of 21 who were brought to the court today on charges relating to the takeover of the Monasavu plant. The plant was seized from soldiers guarding the plant with the soldiers held hostage for about 3 weeks. The plant itself was held by the terrorists for about one month. This caused severe power disruptions on Viti Levu and had almost halted most industrial, manufacturing and service activities relying solely on FEA power.

The suspended sentence is another of the continuing saga of lenient sentences given to terrorists responsible for the massive destruction of Fiji's infrastructure, economy, and social and political institutions and relations.

Meanwhile Fiji TV reports today that the police force is likely to take-over the security operations from the military within the next few days. A meeting between the military and the police took place today but no official statement to this effect was made.

It has also been revealed that the reinstated Police Commissioner, Isikia Savua is attempting to clear the 26 former soldiers (of the territorial forces) with criminal records he had recruited as special constables. It is understood that Savua is planning to give commendation certificates to the 26 by tomorrow afternoon. The criminal records of the constables range from larceny to attempted rape and manslaughter. The attempt to terminate the appointment by the Acting Commissioner of Police Moses Driver when Savua was suspended was overturned by Savua when he was reinstated.

In another development, one of the 4 terrorists against whom the treason charges were withdrawn and who was released on $50 bail has told the Fiji TV that he was responsible for the attempt to illegally depose the elected government. Eroni Lewaqai stated that he joined the Speight team on the 19th May and remained on the Parliament Complex till 13 July aiding Speight. He stated that what they wanted done was being done precisely by the Qarase regime.

It is strongly rumoured that Speight himself and the remaining members of his terrorist band will be released soon, possibly before Christmas.

The recent development have irked the military and others who are concerned that these provide negative images of the institutions responsible for law and order, and act contrary to reinstating confidence in the country and the economy.

END 12 December 2000


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