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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 8, 2000 – Radio Australia)---At least five chiefs from Fiji’s northern island of Vanua Levu are under house arrest.

As Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports from Suva, their confinement follows allegations that they supported illegal activities on behalf of May 19 coup front man George Speight.

"Police and the military have confirmed that the high chiefs from the province of Macuata -- namely Ratu Josefa Ritova, Ratu Viliame Rova-Bokola, Ratu Sepesa Sawaki, Ratu Mavileko Rokocegu and former information minister in the SVT government Ratu Josefa Dimuri -- are under house arrest.

"Authorities say that some of the chiefs were informed of their arrest by police following traditional ceremonies, while others were notified by the military during raids.

"A former information minister, Ratu Josefa Dimuri, who surrendered himself to police on Saturday, is being kept at a house in the northern town of Labasa.

"The five will be detained pending investigations against them.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."



LABASA, Fiji Islands (August 8, 2000 - Fijilive)---Chiefs who supported the events of the coup may face interrogation by the police.

Police spokesperson Romano Tikotikoca said traditional means of reconciliation do not have any value in criminal proceedings.

He said the police would do its work to deal with those who supported the events of the coup, bringing lawlessness into the country.

Meanwhile, 32 men arrested earlier, who appeared in Labasa Magistrates Court, have pleaded not guilty.

The men were charged with unlawful assembly, unlawful use of motor vehicles, and mounting of roadblocks.

The men have been granted bail and will reappear in court on September 12.

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