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By Otilly Rabuku

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Mar. 1) - Passengers on a flight from Australia to Fiji last week were disgusted by the behavior of some Fijian soldiers returning from service with private security firm Global Risk Strategies in Iraq.

Among the passengers on the flight, from Melbourne into Nadi on Friday, was a member of the chiefly family from Vitogo and representatives from the tikina o' Vitogo who were coming home to attend a funeral of a family member.

A Fiji-born Australian citizen, Seruwaia Ranamalo, the oldest daughter of the late Eparama Siga, the first-ever Fijian soldier killed while on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon, said she was disappointed at the rowdy behavior of the Fijian soldiers on the flight.

"This is my fourth trip to Fiji but this was the most disgusting one," she said.   "We were very frustrated at the behavior of these soldiers, who showed no respect for the other passengers on board."

She said the soldiers were drunk and were using foul language.

"Being a Fijian, I felt really disgraced at the attitude shown, especially being soldiers who are renowned for their discipline."

She said they were well behaved when they departed Sydney for Fiji but once in mid-flight, it was a different story.

"Things worsened as we arrived into Nadi airport while trying to clear our bags. These soldiers were acting worse than little children, playing around with the luggage on the belt system. It was very frustrating to locate our luggage as they were mixing around the bags," she added.

Accompanied by one of her two children, Mrs Ranamalo said that it was even more frustrating to see airport securities just standing by helplessly watching the disorderly conduct of the soldiers.

"The airport security and workers just couldn't do anything but watch these bunch of pigs. Even a bag of important documents that belonged to the mata ni tikina Vitogo was lost during the incident. 

"We're now asking if anyone of those soldiers that took the green bag to please contact us and we'd come personally to pick it," she said.

No comments could be obtained from Global Risk Strategies’ Fiji representative, Colonel Sakiusa Raivoce.

Most Fijian soldiers who returned from duties in Lebanon joined up with the company for its duties in Iraq.

March 2, 2004



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