PSC Drops Cases Against Civil Servants
PSC Drops Cases Against Civil Servants Supporting Terrorists Issue No: 414 25 January 2001
Four of the civil servants alleged to be involved in the overthrow of the elected regime have been freed by the Public Service Commission.
A statement from the PSC stated that of the 12 names provided by the police to the PSC for investigation according to the PSC regulations, 5 are former civil servants. The alleged offences for the remaining 7 ranged from "being sighted at the Parliament Complex; supplying a power generator for use by the rebels at the Complex; the active involvement in promoting the objectives of the coup; being in a drunken stupor and boasting of supporting the rebels and opening the school and its facilities for use by the rebels."
The PSC stated that after discussing each case, it decided "to accept the officers' explanations which have been carefully verified, and that no further action will be pursued against them".
One wonders at the ability of those investigating and verifying the facts at the PSC. In one case, the PSC investigated and "carefully verified" that the officer charged with providing diesel to the terrorists did so because "of the concerns for the safety of the hostages".
In another case, the Head Teacher of school near the Parliament Complex explained that he remained with the terrorists on the school premise to because "he felt duty bound to remain in the compound and look after the school". The PSC also accepted the Education Ministry's reference the "because of his presence in the compound, the damages sustained were minimal". The media and teachers at the school had widely reported that the school was damaged extensively.
Another officer denied ever going to the complex from May 19. The PSC verified that he was abroad on leave between 19 May and 13 July. Civil servants are entitled to 15 working days annual leave each year.
The fourth officer admitted going to the Parliament Complex twice, but only to "deliver a bag of clothes for one of the hostages", and to "drop off an acquaintance who sought a lift in his car to go to Parliament".
The PSC further stated further that police investigations are continuing against three other officers, and that under PSC regulations, if the police is investigating officers, the PSC does has to await the court's determination before deciding upon the next course of action.
The 3 - Rusiate Korovusere Principal Administrative Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jale Kadi, Senior Technical Assistant and Kanito Matagasau Senior Agricultural Assistant, both of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests - are on suspension without pay until the court cases are over.
The PSC added that there are 3 other officers who are have been "widely known to have been directly involved in the insurgency" and were "absent without authority during the period in question for over seven (7) consecutive days.". These officers have been deemed to have resigned. The 3 are: Varinava Tiko, Senior Agricultural Assistant of the Ministry of Agriculture, Iliesa Naituku, a Medical Assistant of the Ministry of Health, and Simione Drole, a Senior Technical Assistant of the Ministry of Works. The PSC says that these 3 will not be reemployed in the civil service in the future.
The PSC says that reports on other civil servants believed to be involved with the terrorists are being investigate. These include teachers, and Fiji's Ambassador to Malaysia, Adi Samanunu Talakuli Cakobau. In Talakuli's case, the PSC statement says that foreign affairs Permanent Secretary "had sought the comments of the Solicitor General" who "has yet to revert with a legal opinion".
It was a foregone conclusion that the PSC on its own accord will not discipline any civil servant who was found to be involved with the terrorists. The suspicion has now been confirmed. Political commentators believe that Talakuli will also escape penalty. One former civil servant commented that the PSC itself has senior officers who were involved with the terrorists, including at least 3 permanent secretaries. "They will not allow any investigation and disciplining of civil servants lest those charged point their fingers towards them", she stated.
END 25 January 2001