CONTROVERSY OVER FIJI MUTINY DEATHS CONTINUES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 10, 2001 - Fiji Sunday Times/PINA Nius Online)--Fiji's military is seeking immunity for soldiers allegedly involved in the killing of five Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit troops during last November's mutiny, the Fiji Sunday Times reported.

Meanwhile, wives of the soldiers who died do not want the army to take over investigations from the police.

Police Commissioner Isikia Savua said on Friday that the military was attempting to take over investigations into the deaths. His officers were having difficulties gathering information from the murder suspects, he said.

This was because the army was not giving the police access to suspects who had not been interviewed.

The bloody mutiny at Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Suva, came in the wake of the May coup last year by gunmen who seized Parliament and took hostage the government led by Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry. The gunmen included rebel members of the elite Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit.

Ana Kalounivale, widow of a soldier who was reported to be at his suburban home when the mutiny started, said: "Why do they want to take over the investigations? Are they afraid their deeds will be found out?"

The immunity sought by the military is to cover "all acts carried out in good faith," a source told the Fiji Sunday Times.

"It will then be up to the courts to decide whether or not the act was carried out in good faith," the source said.

Early this year the police said they were treating as murder the deaths of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit soldiers allegedly killed while being interrogated about the mutiny.

Police made the statement after receiving the results of the post mortem.

The police are under pressure from the widows of two soldiers who said their husbands were not at the camp when the shooting began during the November 2 mutiny.

Five soldiers from the Counter-Revolutionary Warfare unit and three loyalist troops died during the unsuccessful mutiny.

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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