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Media Spotlight Resumes On Treason, Court Martial


SUVA (FijiLive/Pacific Media Watch): A media spotlight on Fiji's treason and court-martial cases resumes tomorrow with mitigation witnesses due to appear in the Labasa barracks case in the wake of Cyclone Ami, the Daily Post reports.

Mitigation witnesses who were to have appeared on Friday before the court martial against 56 rebel soldiers of Sukanaivalu Barracks, Labasa could not make it to Suva because of the cyclone devastation.

Defence lawyer Kitione Vuataki told the court that most of the witnesses who were to mitigate on behalf of the soldiers by giving character references had to attend to their properties and businesses which were drastically affected by the cyclone and floods.

Junior defence counsel, Harry Robinson, also had to return to Labasa where he resides because his properties were affected by the floods.

Vuataki said the Labasa Mayor, Charan Jeet Singh, was to be one of the mitigating witnesses but had written a letter instead to be read in court.

The court martial, which is being held at the Officers Training School in Vatuwaqa, Suva, had to adjourn after only 23 soldiers made their mitigating pleas.

The case resumes on Tuesday, when Vuataki will inform the court of when witnesses will be able to get to Suva for the court martial.

The 56 soldiers have pleaded guilty to participating in the Sukanaivalu Barracks mutiny in July 2000, the first of its kind in the history of the Fiji military.

The soldiers who spoke in mitigation on Friday asked the court for a pardoned sentence, mainly because they were remorseful and had families to look after.

The soldiers have also asked for forgiveness from the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, Army Commander, Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama and all those they hurt during the mutiny.



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