Friday, March 5, 2010

Fiji high chief, seven others jailed over Fiji kill plot

IN HIS summing up in the controversial Fiji assassination conspiracy case, High Court judge Justice Paul Madigan put the blame on a ninth man who wasn't in the dock - New Zealand businessman Ballu Khan. Eight other co-conspirators in the alleged plot to assassinate the regime leader, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, were jailed for sentences ranging between three and seven years. But the judge said he was convinced the plot had been orchestrated by Khan, in collaboration with the eight accused. The New Zealand government has since denied any knowledge of the plot, saying it had merely provided consular assistance to Khan.

Madigan made his statement while sentencing the eight accused men in a packed courtroom. According to Fijilive, the judge said Khan’s business interests in Fiji had "waned after the military takeover in December 2006", and that the businessman was eager to "restore his fortunes to their former felicitous state”. Justice Madigan added the idea of weakening the military, “removing” Bainimarama and the President, and ridding the country of Indo-Fijians had both sinister and racial intentions. Fijilive reported that Fiji high chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata - described as a "ringleader" - and seven others had been sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven years for Takiveikata to three years for the others for plotting to assassinate Bainimarama and two other senior government figures in 2007:
Takiveikata and former Pacific Connex employee Sivaniolo Naulago were both jailed for seven years while former Fiji Intelligence Services director Metuisela Mua was jailed for three and a half years.

Former Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldier Barbado Mills was jailed for six years and six months while CRW fellowman Feoko Gadekibau was given a prison term of five and half years.

Other former CRW men Eparama Waqatakirewa and Pauliasi Namulo were jailed for three years each while fifth CRW figure Kaminieli Vosavere was jailed for four years.

Justice Madigan walked into a packed court room, filled with different nationalities. Members of the media were allowed in first.

The defendants, found guilty earlier this week by a five-member team of assessors, looked relaxed as they awaited the judge’s decision.
They faced a maximum prison term of 14 years for the offence.
Pictured: The accused chief, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata. Photo: Fijilive.

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