SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 11, 2000 – ABC Australia)---Fiji coup leader George Speight has formally been charged with treason.

He appeared in the magistrate's court in the capital, Suva, which came to a standstill as a major security operation was implemented.

A number of Speight's supporters were also charged with treason, before the case was adjourned until later this month.

The treason charges arise from the May 19 coup against then-prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry, and for threats against the life of the then-president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Chaudhry and members of his government were held hostage in the Fiji Parliament at gunpoint for eight weeks.

They were freed only after the rebels signed an agreement with Fiji's martial law authorities, which promised them immunity on the safe release of the hostages and the return of all arms to the military.

Speight and his associates also are charged with not returning the full complement of arms.

For additional reports from ABC Australia News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/ABC News Online.

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