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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Mar. 18) - A senior Fiji cabinet minister, a government senator and two other chiefs appeared in the Labasa magistrate’s court on mutiny related charges.

The Fiji Times named two of the defendants as Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, minister for lands and MP for the pro-coup Conservative Alliance and Matanitu Vanua party; and Senator and Labasa chief Ratu Josefa Dimuri. Also appearing were two unidentified Vanua Levu local chiefs.

All have been charged with illegal assembly at the Labasa army barracks during the army mutiny, which occurred at the height of the coup.

In addition, Senator Ratu Josefa has been charged with inciting mutiny, which will require a high court trial preceded by a preliminary inquiry.

Their cases are scheduled in August.

Soldiers involved in the Labasa mutiny were convicted and sentenced to prison earlier this year, with two receiving life sentences.

March 18, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: 

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