POLICE TO PROBE FIJI ARMY OFFICER’S ALLEGATION ON COUP MAKERS

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By Matelita Ragogo

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 24, 2001 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji detectives yesterday intensified investigations into last year's takeover of Parliament after allegations that known perpetrators remained free.

In a Fiji Television interview on Sunday, former Third Infantry Regiment commander Lieutenant Colonel Viliame Seruvakula claimed seven people involved with the coup were still free.

He said the group was made up of businessmen, politicians, senior army officers, and former senior army officers.

The career soldier claimed Indians as well as indigenous Fijians were involved but did not give names.

In the interview, Lt. Col. Seruvakula said an intelligence report with names of the perpetrators had been completed and sent to Government House.

Lt. Col. Seruvakula said it made him sick when he saw those who plotted the takeover still walking around free.

Lt. Col. Seruvakula was one of the key army commanders supporting Fiji Military Forces commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama as the Fiji military ended the violence and unrest and negotiated the release of parliamentarians held hostage. He has now left the Fiji Military Forces to serve with the New Zealand Army.

He said in the interview that the public had the right to know who were involved in the takeover.

The officer in charge of investigations, Inspector Waisea Tabakau, was unable to release details of the police inquiries.

But police were angered by Lt. Col. Seruvakula’s revelations.

"People like (Lt. Col. Seruvakula) should come to the police with the information, not blurt it out to the media like that," Inspector Tabakau said.

"We cannot release details of our investigations either because it is on-going and with consideration to the confidentiality and sensitivity of the story."

Inspector Tabakau said releasing information or the progress of their investigation could affect their work and the present volatile political situation.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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