Sunday, November 4, 2007

Human rights groups scoff at Fiji military-backed regime's plot claim

Civil society campaigners in Fiji have scoffed at the allegations of a funded assassination plot against the regime's interim prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Both the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali (pictured) and Pacific Centre for Public Integrity director Angie Heffernan rejected allegations on Radio New Zealand National's Morning Report today. Fiji police commissioner Elesa Teleni later announced three people has been charged with treason and conspiravy to commit murder. Many of the 16 detained people reportedly had links with George Speight who led the May 2000 coup.
Both civil society groups have been strong critics of the post-coup regime. Ali told the Fiji Times that the FWCC acted constitutionally and denied being part of any assassination plot against members of the interim regime as well as senior members of the military. She said her movement was a human rights-based organisation and had no problems being questioned by police because all its activities were lawful. She added that all books were properly audited and there was no way any funding of an alleged assassination plot against Bainimarama and other members of his regime could happen.
"Every financial transaction is recorded in our books and we welcome any check by anyone interested," she told the Fiji Times. Heffernan told Radio NZ the regime should come clean with any evidence it had. Until it did so, this was just an "alleged plot". She also called for evidence of any plot in an interview with the Fiji Times, saying she believed it was also an attempt to divert attention from the military's failed attempts to have soldiers and police murder suspects in the Sakiusa Rabaka case leave the country under a United Nations mission to Iraq.
Ali said nobody deserved to be beaten up when being questioning over a criminal allegation.
Millionaire New Zealand citizen Ballu Khan was admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital - and is under heavy guard - after injuries suffered while in military and police custody on Saturday night. He was denied access to a lawyer over the weekend. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has condemned the abuse of human rights.

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