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Fiji 'Coup Colonels' Named In Court Martial

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'COUP COLONELS'
Bulewa names Tarakinikini, Vatu, Luveni and Baledrokadroka


SUVA (Pasifik Nius): The accused Fiji rebel soldiers' defence will spell out in detail the alleged direct involvement of four colonels in last year's May 19 coup and November 2 mutiny, defence lawyer Kelemedi Bulewa said yesterday at the court martial of 1st Meridian Sqaudron troops charged with mutiny, the Daily Post reports.

Bulewa named four senior army officers - Lieutenant-Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka, Lt-Col Filipo Tarakinikini, Col Ulaisi Vatu and Lt-Col Inoke Luveni.

Bulewa made the accusation during his cross-examination of Capt Jone Kalouniwai who was responsible for compiling and analysing intelligence material.

One of Capt Kalouniwai's main functions was to highlight perceived threats to the military, evaluating their sources and seriousness while making recommendations about how such threats can be countered.

During his cross-examination by Bulewa, Capt Kalouniwai said he had concluded from a warning he perceived that there was a real possibility of a commotion in the military from May 19-November 2, 2000.

During this briefing, he said the names of some senior officers were mentioned.

But he denied that the names of any officers were brought up at the briefing.

There were, however, perceived threats from those who [had been] in Parliament and were back in camp.

Bulewa told Capt Kalouniwai to come up with the truth and stop covering it up.

He should not be frightened of his senior officers as he was under the protection of the court martial, Bulewa said.

And he put it to Capt Kalouniwai that there was deep dissatisfaction within the military from the day the current commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, was appointed.

Again Capt Kalouniwai denied knowing such things.

It was at this point that Bulewa named the four colonels' names as examples of those who were unhappy with the commander's appointment and added there would be more to come.

Of the officers named yesterday, two are still in the army.

Lt-Col Tarakinikini has been seconded to the United Nations and Lt Col Luveni has retired.

Bulewa said the defence would in due course, through the testimony of witnesses it calls and affidavits of accused CRW soldiers, provide the evidence and proof that the Fiji military was a seriously flawed military organisation that was due for a fundamental reconstruction.

+++niuswire

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