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Fiji Times Suva, Fiji Islands

August 9, 2001

They’re getting away with murder. The decree that purports to grant immunity to the soldiers who kicked and beat five men to death last year cannot be allowed to stand.

These were revenge killings, pure and simple.

True, members of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit brutally executed three comrades in arms at the commencement of the November mutiny. But there is no shred of evidence that the five men murdered in revenge had any involvement in the killings or even in the mutiny.

And even if they were involved, revenge is no excuse for murder.

And the community as a whole will wonder why the immunity decree couldn't wait a few weeks until the issue could be debated by an elected Parliament.

Could it be that the President, the army and the caretaker Government couldn't be sure that an elected chamber would even entertain such a debate?

This decree represents a travesty of justice.

Will anyone else who kills for revenge receive the same immunity?

Instead the debate should revolve around the killings and those responsible. Who are the murderers? Who, if anyone, ordered the killings?

This decree is a further stain on a justice system already dirtied by the disgraceful behavior of a number of senior judges. It does nothing at all to restore public confidence in Fiji's system of justice. Indeed it does just the opposite.

Those now standing for Parliament should declare their positions on this.

Are they content to see murder go unpunished?

And will they overturn this disgraceful decree when a lawful government returns to power?

The people would like to know.

Meanwhile, the wives of the murdered CRW soldiers are right to pursue their legal actions against the military. They have been seriously wronged and have every right to seek legal redress. The whole story behind this sordid affair needs to come out. The country cannot hope to return to normality while this running sore continues to fester.

The army's attempt to sweep the dirt under the carpet cannot be accepted by an elected Parliament. It will be a painful process for all concerned, but the alternative is unacceptable to the people of Fiji.

Murder has been committed and the law must take its course.

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

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