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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 24, 1999 – PACNEWS/INCL)---An unsuccessful candidate in the Fiji general election has appeared in court with three others charged with arson attacks on a number of Indo-Fijian run schools.

Ameo Ramokosoi of the extremist Fijian Nationalist (Vanua Tako Lavo) Party sought the Tailevu South Fijian communal seat.

Island Networks reports that Ramokosoi and three others -- Sairusi Vasiro, Saimoni Sabakera and Meli Rawaqa -- have all denied the charges and elected a High Court trial.

They are also charged with school break-ins and entering with intent to cause a felony.

It is alleged the four men burned two schools and the headquarters of the former ruling Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) office because of the outcome of the recent Fiji election It put in power the Fiji Labour Party and a predominantly Indo-Fijian Government headed by Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

The men have been remanded until their next court appearance early next month.

Police are questioning a Suva businessman over an illegal firearm which was allegedly found in his possession when they searched his home during the weekend. He also is expected to appear in court soon


SUVA, Fiji (May 24, 1999 – PACNEWS)---Fiji police have seized an unlicensed gun and arrested seven people in connection with a spate of arson attacks in the capital, Suva, and the neighboring town of Nausori.

Police are questioning the owner of the gun, a Suva businessman, in connection with the fires. The suspects are expected to appear in the Suva Magistrates Court later today to face arson charges.

Police Commissioner Isikia Savua said at a news conference the fires were politically motivated. The businessman is reported to be a member of a political party that has openly expressed its opposition to the newly elected Government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

Commissioner Savua reassured the nation that police would spare no effort to bring to justice those responsible for the recent fires.

Police confirmed four schools, two homes, two offices, and two business premises were firebombed. However, in the last three days, 16 fire reports had been received by the National Fire Authority (NFA).

Prime Minister Chaudhry described the arson attacks as "foolish." He said there was a rule of law in the country and it would apply to those who disobeyed its regulations.

Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka also condemned the recent fires, but denied that his Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei Party (SVT) was behind the attacks.

"I feel it is very irresponsible for people to be involved and those behind these cowardly acts should be arrested and brought to justice," he said.

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