Terrorists Want Immunity
Issue No: 938 13 July 2001
The lawyer for the leader of the terrorists, Dr. Marc Gumbert states that his clients want to be freed on the ground that they were given immunity from prosecution after they released hostages they were holding at gunpoint.
In an interview published in today's Fiji Sun, Gumbert states:
"You know the sad thing about this is that when Commodore Bainimarama, then Head of State, apparently gave these undertakings [immunity], it was understood that they were meant in good faith."
"The primary thing was the release of hostages, secondarily other matters like return of weapons."
"We now know - and everyone then knew - that the weapons were in the hands of the army - the CRW. Civilians like Speight himself didn't have a direct hand in that."
"If Speight did as much as he could to return the weapons and yet some were missing, it wasn't his fault."
"And besides, no one was saying a great deal of weapons were missing."
"Once again I say it is a terrible thing to try to loophole that accord, as though it was an item such as taxation act, a sharp businessman trying to haul it."
"The spirit of the accord was quite clear."
"The other tragic thing I want to highlight is this. unfortunately, mutiny of this sort occurs from time to time, not only in Fiji but all over the world."
"It happened about 10 years before this, a similar type of mutiny occurred but a much more bloody one than this one in the Caribbean."
"The Privy Council or the highest Court of the British Commonwealth of non-English people had to decide on that."
"And only few years ago, they had decided such a decree granted to the people in the Caribbean in Trinidad or Barbados ought to be respected."
"It is obvious that there are people who behave in this way of going into an elected parliament and taking it by force."
"Because if they would rule, the government not offering such a decree of immunity, the later government administrations would never have the ability to bargain out."
"Now the authorities through necessity, Bainimarama offered that, on the basis primarily many lives will be salved and everybody was released."
"Can you imagine what would happen if a cop like this would happen again and those who took par tin the coup believe that any sort of dealing with authorities would not be honoured?"
"It's for the reason that the document (Muanikau Accord) should be regarded as a sacred document, I believe as a matter of politics or I should say policy, for I'm not a politician."
"Why the Privy Council said this should be honoured I believe is for the future of this country or other countries looking at such decisions."
"I believe this kind of things should be kept in mind and I'm sure the High Court in Fiji would keep that in mind."
Now of the cause, the prosecution has a different view and I respect that.. lawyers know when going to court there is going to be an argument."
"I'm confident. I don't know what the outcome would be but I'm confident we have a very powerful argument."
"Anybody looking into the immunity or accord will immediately indicate that it must mean what it says."
"It said the hostages must be released but the Muanikau Accord did say that weapons should be returned (everyone knows the weapons were in the hands of the CRW)."
"By the way nearly all the CRW are not prosecuted at all."
"There is something unpleasant in our taste about the whole thing."
"I can understand that Fiji feels it has to do something, as the rest of the community is looking at this case."
"It seems to me that once you have an accord, decree and immunity of this sort, it should be done according to the spirit, not trying to loophole it"
Gumbert stated that he is confident of winning the case. See the Muanikau Accord at: http://www.pcgov.org.fj/docs_o/muanikau_accord.htm