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Speight Plea 'Buries The Truth'

Source -- Fiji Sun/Fiji Times, 21/2/2
Copyright -- PN/FS/FT

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Fiji coup front man George Speight and his jailed henchmen are scapegoats and their prison sentence will not help people know the truth behind the rebellion, says opposition parliamentarian Mick Beddoes.

He told Parliament yesterday he had filed a complaint with police over "the brains and the financiers" of the May 2000 attempted coup, the Sun reports.

Speaking during the Penal Code Amendment Bill debate, Beddoes said he had been forced to lodge the complaint because Home Affairs Minister Joketani Cokanasiga had said that no such complaints had been filed with police.

"I am doing this for the families of those who lost their lives, I am doing this for the thousands of citizens who lost their lives, I am doing this for the thousands of citizens who lost their jobs and continue to face difficulty, I am doing this for the decent law abiding citizens who need to hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Beddoes said.

"When we catch the seven plotters and their key supporters who have been hiding shamelessly, like the cowards behind George Speight and those sentenced this week, I will be the first member of this House to vote in favour of convicting for treason those who planned and paid for the events of May 2000."

In his report sent to Police Commissioner Isikia Savua, Beddoes asked for Lieutenant-Colonel Viliame Seruvakula's claims to be investigated.

Seruvakula alleged that he had received $260,000 from a businessman but he returned the money.

"Police should establish the identity of the businessman and whether the allegation is correct," he said.

Seruvakula had also claimed that officers were offered up to $50,000 each to participate in the coup and that there were at least seven plotters of the 19 May 2000 rebellion.

"People should know who these people are and, once identified, they should be charged for treason," Beddoes said.

According to the Fiji Times, the United General Party leader said the Bill needed to stay firmly in place as a life sentence without parole.

Beddoes said members quoting from the Bible, suggesting forgiveness and compassion, would be aware that Jesus forgave the woman who committed adultery and gave his own life to save sinners.

"So who will give their life to save the yet undefined cause and follow the teachings of Jesus?" he said.

"I cannot help but think that the ink on the court's judgement this week did not have time to dry, [before] the Attorney-General and his Prerogative of Mercy Commission had decided on the reduction of the sentence," he said.

Beddoes said Speight was the leader of the attempted coup by default "because the actual leader failed to show at the agreed time".


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