FOUR MEN CHARGED WITH PLOT TO ALLEGEDLY ASSASSINATE FIJI PRIME MINISTER

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QARASE

SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 4, 2002 – Sun)---Four men were placed in custody yesterday for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Anare Papu Waqavonovono, Josaia Waqabaca, Koroi Vesikula and Varinava Tiko appeared before Magistrate Aminiasi Katonivualiku with charges of conspiracy to commit a felony.

Tiko was arrested in 2000 for his role in holding police officers and soldiers hostage in Korovou Town during the hostilities after May 19, while Waqavonovono attempted to reach his son’s killer, Henry Ali, who was held in police custody at Nabua Police Station.

Ali was sentenced by a military court martial to jail for shooting Waqavonovono Junior in Lebanon after they had an argument.

Waqavonovono Senior and two others were armed when they tried to storm the police station.

All men pleaded guilty to the charge and were refused bail.

The court heard that between December 28 last year and January 1, the four and others conspired to commit a felony.

Public prosecutor Kevueli Tunidau, in making his objections to any bail applications, said investigations into the case were continuing and they have yet to arrest other suspects.

Mr. Tunidau said there was a strong likelihood of interference with prosecution witnesses and bail should not be granted because of the profile and great sensitivity of the case.

He added the four were a potential threat to national security.

The first three accused were not represented while parliamentarian Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure appeared for Tiko.

Waqabaca asked the court to release Waqavonovono and Vesikula, as the case centered around him and Tiko.

Magistrate Katonivualiku interjected and said he should speak for himself and not for the other two who had opted to remain silent when asked if they had anything to say.

In his application for grant of bail for Tiko, Ratu Rakuita said that, to his knowledge, the prosecution only had circumstantial evidence and the statements given under oath by the four.

Ratu Rakuita also offered that his client regularly reports to police stations.

In rejecting the bail applications, Mr. Katonivualiku said the security of the State could be compromised.

He remanded the four until January 17.

Ratu Rakuita made an application for the prosecution to disclose all documents to him within seven days.

Mr. Katonivualiku agreed to that and adjourned the case to January 10.

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

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