15 FIJI ARMY MUTINEERS FOUND GUILTY

SUVA, Fiji (Nov. 6, 2002 - fijivillage.com/PINA Nius Online)---Fifteen officers and ordinary soldiers from Fiji's former Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit have been found guilty of mutiny during events following the May 2000 coup crisis.

The verdict comes two years after the bloody clash at Suva's main Queen Elizabeth Barracks, in which the mutiny was put down by loyalist troops.

The judges announced their findings this morning after assessing all the evidence in the court martial, which began in August last year.

However, while the judges have found the 15 guilty of taking part in the mutiny to overthrow the lawful authority of Fiji Military Forces Commander Frank Bainimarama, their findings vary on the minor charges.

These charges include failing to suppress and prevent mutiny, criminal intimidation, confinement and abduction.

The judges also found one mutineer, Sergeant Jone Naisara, not guilty of the murder of a loyalist soldier.

This afternoon, the defense lawyers begin mitigation. After this the judges are expected to sentence the 15 former soldiers.

Under current Fiji military law, a mutineer could face the death penalty. However, the men are expected to get at a maximum of life sentences.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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