FIJI LT. COL FILIPO PORTRAYED AS ''DEVIOUS, TREACHEROUS AND COWARDLY''

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 15, 2002 – Fiji Times)---A high-profile Fiji military officer who refuses to return home from a United Nations post in New York believes his own government is wrongly portraying him as "devious, treacherous and cowardly,'' according to court papers.

During Fiji's 2000 coup and hostage drama Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini became an international face as the spokesman for the Pacific nation's martial law. Up until March he was serving in the United Nations Peacekeeping office in New York and has not returned home. He submitted his resignation but Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) head Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama refused to accept it. They want him back in Fiji to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the George Speight-led coup and the military mutiny later in the year.

Tarakinikini is now suing RFMF and parties for both sides will appear tomorrow before High Court Justice John Byrne to decide a hearing date.

Papers submitted with Tarakinikini's application for judicial review claim Bainimarama is biased against Tarakinikini. The documents name Bainimarama as the first respondent, President Josefa Iloilo second and Attorney General Qoriniasi Bale third.

Tarakinikini's lawyer Samu Matawalu argues in the papers that Bainimarama violated the law by not accepting Tarakinikini's resignation.

The application says Bainimarama has "persistently embarked on a course of conduct since May 2000 calculated to inflict mental or/and emotional stress on (Tarakinikini) and his family.''

The civil action seeks a variety of relief, including acceptance of the original resignation. It also wants the court to block Bainimarama from making further statements over Tarakinikini's role in the coup and seeks unspecified damages and costs.

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

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