INTERPOL GO-AHEAD FOR ARREST OF FIJI "DESERTER" TARAKINIKINI

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 21, 2002 – Fiji Sunday Post-Josephine Prasad/Pasifik Nius)---Controversial Fiji military officer Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini is to arrive home shortly escorted by Interpol officers, reports the Sunday Post.

Interpol has been officially notified that former military spokesperson Tarakinikini is listed as a "deserter" and the agency's help is needed to extradite him.

Last night a top Fiji government official said Interpol had already started tracking him down.

"We have already received a report from New York that Lt. Col. Tarakinikini has moved from his Roosevelt Island quarters allocated to him by the United Nations peacekeeping [authorities] and has got a flat of his own," the official said.

A special meeting between military and police officials is scheduled for today to discuss the matter further.

This move follows President Ratu Josefa Iloilo having washed his hands clean over the former military spokesperson's plea to accept his resignation.

Tarakinikini, who had tendered his resignation last month, was told by army commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama that due to allegations pending against him he was to return.

Tarakinikini is alleged to have been involved in the May 2000 mayhem and the political crisis that followed, including the November mutiny the same year in a bid to oust Bainimarama.

The President's Office said a letter had been received from Tarakinikini informing Ratu Josefa about his resignation effective March 21, 2002.

A legal expert on military law said if the army commander refused a resignation then the soldier had not been discharged from the military.

* A detailed letter from Tarakinikini to the commander, calling for a full public inquiry into the attempted coup by George Speight on May 19, 2000 and the subsequent events has been widely published in the Fiji media.

Many community leaders and politicians have supported his call for the inquiry, but the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is opposed.

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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