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FIJI: Tarakinikini faces probe on coup claims

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TARAKINIKINI FACES PROBE
Army to grill officer on coup claims

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Investigations into Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini's alleged involvement in the May 2000 coup will resume once he returns [from his contract with the United Nations] to Fiji in March, the Fiji Times reports.

Army commander Commodore Voreqe Baiimarama confirmed this yesterday, saying he was disappointed with the way the press had constantly highlighted the issue.

"The decision has already been made, in fact talks have been going on for the past 18 months," Commodore Bainimarama said.

"Whatever he says or does is not going to deter the military from its decision."

Commodore Bainimarama said the army was aware that the senior officer was in frequent contact with local media organisations.

"He is actually shooting himself in the foot," he said.

"For a senior officer like him to resent command speaks a lot for the kind of person he is."

He described as a non-issue reports that the army wanted Lt-Col Tarakinikini recalled immediately.

"That is a non-issue. He will return when his contract expires."

Lt-Col Tarakinikini's one-year contract as a senior planner in the UN peacekeeping operations department in New York ends in March.

Although his secondment is for one year, there are provisions for an extension.

Lt-Col Tarakinikini's departure was surrounded with controversy, forcing the Government to step in and mediate on his behalf with the UN.

The senior officer has always maintained that he was not involved in the takeover at Parliament or the November 2000 mutiny.

+++niuswire

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