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Garment Manufacturer Admits Financing Terrorists

Issue No: 927 9 July 2001

Australian garment manufacturer Mark Halabe has admitted financing the terrorists who had held the elected government hostage for 56 days last year.

Halabe had told the elected Prime Minister when he visited the Parliament Complex that he had given $50,000 financial assistance to Speight but "the bastard is demanding more".

Halabe told the local media that he had assisted the terrorists because he wanted them to release the hostages. Halabe told the Fiji Sun: "I was in Sydney when George called me up and asked me for financial assistance. This was during the Bose ni Turaga meeting in July., I told him I would only assist him if he released the hostages. That's when I provided him with transport, the buses our company uses to transport the workers.".

Halabe is an Australian citizen owning and operating a garment factory in Suva. The factory is under the tax-free zone laws. He was particularly irritated by the elected government's plan to cease the tax-free scheme system under which a select group of businessmen benefited from millions of dollars of taxes concessions. He also was reportedly concerned about the elected government's attempt to introduce better working conditions for the industry.

Halabe stated: "I briefed [the Australian High Commission] on my visit before and after. I gave them details of my trips inside. Towards the end the Australian High Commission told me to stop going. But I have nothing to hide".

Halabe made frequent visits to the terrorists. The visits started on May 21 and continued till July. The terrorists have revealed the names of many businessmen who financed them. Included are also many ethnic Indian businessmen who have supported and financed the National Federation Party.

The media has condemned the businessmen for financing the terrorists. Today's Fiji Sun states:

"It is inexcusable."

"That's what we think about revelations that leading garment manufacturer Mark Halabe assisted failed coup leader George Speight."

"He in now arguing that he did it in good faith, but sorry Mr Halabe, we are least interested in your reasons for doing so."

"For all we know, you and all your colleagues who helped Speight in cash or kind, should be hauled before the courts to face criminal charges."

"We recall you telling local journalist at the height of the hostage crisis that you had no part in assisting Speight's cause."

"You had denied assisting in transportation and in helping Ateca Williams prepare and deliver food to parliament."

"Shame on all of you."

"Whether your deal with Speight was for the release of the hostages or not is beside the point. Are you now wanting us to believe that it was your 'deal' that led to he release of Mr Chaudhry and his group of ministers?"

"Mr Halabe should now do the right thing and tell police the names of all businesspeople like him, who assisted Speight and his illegal acts. Once you've done that, then let police and the courts determine whether you and your colleagues have broken the law."

END


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