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Terrorists Planned To Blow Up Banks And Ships

Issue No: 814 31 May 2001

The George Speight terrorist group had planned to blow up banks, ships, the Magistrates Court was told on Tuesday.

An AP report, published in the Post Courier yesterday, states:

"FIJI'S coup plotters were traitors who planned to blow up banks, sink ships and seize the country's president, the prosecution told Suva magistrate's court yesterday."

"The court heard the coup plotters had planned to dynamite parliament and the Westpac and ANZ banks in central Suva, as well as issue petrol bombs to Fijian youths to attack shops, and to dockers to sink ships."

"But the preliminary inquiry before Chief Magistrate Sailesi Temo, which unveiled previously unknown details of the plot, swiftly came to a standstill after coup leader George Speight sacked his lawyer Matebalavu Rabo."

"The case was adjourned for a week to allow Speight to find new representation."

"Speight and 12 others face a single charge of treason which lists 13 "overt acts" related to events between May 1 and July 31 last year when the government of now deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was held hostage for 56 days."

"The acts also include the suspension of the constitution, looting and rioting in the capital city of Suva and the forced stepping down of president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara."

"Before Mr Temo adjourned the hearing, New Zealand lawyer Gerard McCoy, prosecuting for the State, hinted his evidence would name those really behind the coup."

"None of the evidence in the inquiry, which is to determine whether a High Court trial is to be held, can be published in Fiji."

"In his statement, Mr McCoy said that, during the siege of parliament, defendant special forces soldier Ilisoni Ligairi had "brutally grabbed" Mr Chaudhry and held a gun to his head, threatening to shoot him at any time."

"Mr Chaudhry was also so badly beaten by Fijian youths that he needed to be put on oxygen, Mr McCoy said."

"He said at one point Speight revealed to Mr Chaudhry who was really behind the coup and that the former prime minister would reveal the names in his evidence to the inquiry."

"The court was told the coup was plotted at the home of the one of the accused, Iliesa Duvuloco, at Mitchell Place in Suva, during which minutes were taken."

"It was alleged at that one of those meetings Speight confirmed firearms and soldiers would be available. Reference was also made to dynamite."

"Mr McCoy said many of the weapons used in the coup had been used in Fiji's 1987 coups."

"The state would call as many witnesses as they needed to, including Chaudhry, former president Mara and three witnesses who were given immunity from prosecution."

"Some witnesses had faced "very serious threats, intimidation and harassment," McCoy said."

"He said the prosecution had only to prove one single overt act against any one individual to successfully make the treason charge against him."

"Thirteen accused, 13 overt acts, 169 combinations," he said.


SVT says Constitution review must stop Issue No: 813 31 May 2001

The new leader of the SVT, Filipe Bole says that Laisenia Qarase must immediately stop the review of the Constitution.

Bole was appointed the SVT leader this week after Ratu Inoke Kubuabola stepped aside.

Today's Daily Post quoted Bole as saying: "The 1997 Constitution is one of the best documents that this country has had.". He also stated that only an elected government has the authority to review the Constitution.

Bole's position has been a total reversal of the earlier SVT stand that the 1997 Constitution should be abrogated and one devised which guaranteed ethnic Fijian supremacy. It is believed that the change in policy comes after the rejection of the Kubuabola-Druavesi-Ahmed Ali controlled faction which had aligned it with the terrorists.

Bole, who was nominated as Fiji's Ambassador to the US, also revealed that he declined the offer until the regime accepted to abide by the court decisions. The Post states Bole as saying that he said "no, until a legal Government is formed, I can not go to Washington. I had first seen the reports in the media and I stated to the Government that you will never get me to go unless you believe in the court system and obey what the courts say".

Meanwhile the Fiji Labour Party has filed a writ in the High Court stopping the regime from proceeding with the review of the constitution.


Cakaudrove Provincial Council in arrears Issue No: 812 31 May 2001

The Cakaudrove Provincial Council is in the red, says a rebel.

Speight terrorist Rakuita Vakalalabure is quoted by the Fiji Times as saying "We are defaulting payments to various financiers".

Vakalalabure was responding to statements that former Prime Minister and the alleged mastermind behind the 19 May and 2 November attempted coups, Sitiveni Rabuka has applied to contest the Cakaudrove West Open Constituency.

Rabuka had won this seat in the 1999 election but resigned within a month to take up the Chairmanship of the Great Council of Chiefs. Rabuka was later dropped from the Chairmanship. He was this month appointed by the Cakaudrove Provincial Council as its Chairman.

Vakalalabure had won this seat in a by-election. He later joined the terrorists and was sworn in as their Home Affairs Minister. He is a Bond University law graduate. He has still not been charged by the police for treason. It is believed that the failure of the police to charge him emerge from the fact that he is a son of a radical chief Ratu Tevita Vakalalabure. Vakalalabure senior was heavily defaulting his loan repayments in the 1990's when the Fiji Development Bank allowed him a repayment regime which will take him over 70 years to repay the debt. Laisenia Qarase was the Managing Director of the FDB for many years.


Qarase defies chiefs Issue No: 811 31 May 2001

The regime's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has defied a decision of the Great Council of Chiefs on landuse in Fiji.

The GCC had decided last year that the Landuse Commission proposed by the People's Coalition Government be fully discussed in the GCC before any decision rejecting it is to be made.

But Laisenia Qarase, at the launching of his political party, stated that his party rejects the Landuse Commission (LUC).

The habit of many ethnic Fijian politicians, including those with the terrorists, has been to sing praises for the traditional Fijian institutions and chiefs, while at the same time systematically undermining these institutions, authorities and chiefs. A typical example was the case of the terrorists who claimed to stand for indigenous rights, yet they not only bitterly attacked the Tui Nayau Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, but also flagrantly defied the decision of the Great Council of Chiefs which met the week following the terrorists' assault on Fiji.

Qarase is also of the same pedigree. While he continues to sing praises for the GCC, and loses no opportunity to proclaim his authority to the GCC, he continues to defy the GCC decisions, and abuse the chiefly system.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister in the People's Coalition Government Poseci Bune said statements made by the Qarase on the Landuse Commission were "inaccurate and misleading", and that they emerged from "ignorance of and unfamiliarity with the concept".

Bune said the concept of the LUC was the subject of a paper which he presented to the Great Council of Chiefs on behalf of the People's Coalition Government, at the Council's April 2000 meeting at the Raffles Tradewinds Hotel.

"At that meeting, I assured the Great Council of Chiefs, on behalf of Prime Minister Chaudhry and the People's Coalition Government that:

· The LUC will sit together with landowners and NLTB to discuss all land use, development projects and proposals;

· All three parties must agree on the most economic and productive use of unused agricultural land;

· All parties should focus attention on development that will bring optimum economic returns to the landowner; and

· At the same time promote and sustain national development."

Mr Bune continued: "I also assured the GCC that the People's Coalition Government had no intention of introducing any new legislation in order to set up the LUC." Mr Bune said, instead, the People's Coalition Government would revive two existing legislations under which the Land Use Commission would operate, and were the Land Conservation and Improvement Act, Cap 141, 1985 (LCA) and the Land Development Act, Cap 142, 1985 (LDA).

"The Government and NLTB are both obliged to work jointly together under these tow Acts as they have done so successfully in past administrations and, therefore, the claim by the Caretaker Prime Minister that the LUC would undermine the role of NLTB is unfounded and has no merits," Mr Bune said.

He said the major aim of the LUC was to provide Fijian people with an opportunity to develop their resources (land and forestry) and earn incomes to better provide for their families. "The NLTB does not have the competence, nor the capability as well as resources to do this and this explains why much of Fijian-owned land remain idle and underdeveloped over the years. There is no hidden agenda," he said.

Mr Bune said "that the economic and financial benefits Fijian should derive through the LUC would be far greater than all the handouts promised under the Blue Print put together".


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