FIJI RED CROSS HEAD AND PARTNER "FEARED FOR THEIR LIVES"

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 2, 2001 – BBC)---The head of the Red Cross in Fiji and his partner had lived in fear for their lives for months before their brutal killings on Sunday, a relative has said.

The sister of Gregory Scrivener -- the male companion of Red Cross director John Scott -- said there had been many death threats during and after last year's coup.

Mr. Scott played a key mediation role during the 56-day crisis after failed businessman George Speight seized the parliament building, holding the Prime Minister and other government members hostage.

Police said both men had been stabbed and their faces were beaten beyond recognition.

Political motive?

Mr. Scott was to have been a witness in the forthcoming hearing into treason charges against Mr. Speight.

Mr. Scrivener's sister, Janice Giles, suggested there might have been a political motive behind the attack.

Mr. Scott may have been killed "to shut him up," she said in an interview with Radio New Zealand.

Fiji police have been questioning the live-in garden boy and two other people whose identities have not been revealed. There have been no arrests.

'Non-violent people'

The police said on Sunday the deaths were due to a domestic dispute gone wrong.

But Mrs. Giles dismissed their conclusion.

She said: "They were a very non-violent people in a stable, committed relationship of long standing."

"There is no reason why anybody would do that to them."

Mrs. Giles also said she feared the police would not investigate the murder properly because she believed there was "extreme homophobia" among the authorities.

Tributes

There have been many tributes for Mr. Scott and his role during the coup, which started in May last year.

Fiji's former prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, said the country was shocked by the attack.

Levinia Padaras, a former government minister held hostage during the coup, said: "He put his life on the line, as some of the . . . rebels pointed guns to his head."

Daily newspapers have carried glowing tributes to Mr. Scott, with the Fiji Times suggesting the inauguration of an annual John Scott award for humanitarian work in the Pacific.

For additional reports from the BBC, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/BBC News: Asia-Pacific.

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