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Senior Soldiers Named As Coup Conspirators

Issue No: 923 7 July 2001

Seven senior military officers have been named as co-conspirators with the terrorists to hold the elected government hostage.

Today's Fiji Sun makes the revelations on the basis of affidavits sworn by soldiers charged with the 19 May terrorism and the 2 November failed mutiny. It is believed that the rebel soldiers have started naming the senior officers after the senior officers failed to protect them form charges. The Sun report, filed by Leone Cabenatabua, states:

"Rebel soldiers have named senior military officers including Colonels Jeramaia Waqanisau, Savenaca Draunidalo, Alfred Tuatoko, Ulaisi Vatu, Maciu Cerewale and Lieutenant Colonels Filipo Tarakinikini and Etuweni Caucau as key supporters of the May 19 uprising."

"This was part of startling revelations by members of the disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare unit in their affidavits on treason charges laid against them by the State."

"The CRW soldiers claim two bus loads of military officers made their way to the parliamentary complex to present a tabua offering their support to coup leader George Speight and his group.

" Both buses were full. in them were Col Tuatoko, Col Cerewale, Col Waqanisau, Lt -Col Caucau."

"They claim this trip was not part of the Great Council of Chiefs delegation and that they had been to see them soon after the cup. They stated that Colonel Tuatoko made a traditional presentation of support to Speight where he stated that:

· The military had asked the President (Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara) to step aside;

· they had abrogated the 1997 constitution;

· the army had supported Speight and for the rebels to disperse and allow the military to take over."

"Private Jitoko Soko, who was a personal bodyguard to Speight, said he was only following instructions as a junior officer."

"He stated that he was led to believe the take over was approved by the military."

""Members of the CRW involved in providing security and guarding hostages were there strictly on instruction," he stated."

"He alleged that as a CRW soldier in parliament he was instructed to sign his leave application for the period of involvement."

". The leave application form was given to him by LT-Col Caucau, in the company of Sergeant Vosabalavu and Sergeant Vuki."

"It was also noted that Lt-Col Tarakinikini and some other officers visited the soldiers, shook hands and wished them well."

"The affidavit of Kemueli Vosavere stated that "senior military officers-Col Tuatoko, Col Cerewale, Col Vatu, Col Draunidalo, Col Raduva and Lt-Col Tarakinikini supported and were involved in the May 19 coup"."

"The affidavits also claimed that food was taken from the military and supplied to them in parliament, on the approval of senior officers."

"They claim that they were transported to and from parliament by army vehicles."

"The affidavit stated that rebel soldiers received their full salary during the crisis.

END


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