FIJI VICE PRESIDENT CONTENT TO ‘EAT RICE AND DHAL’

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By Frederica Elbourne

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, August 26) – Fiji’s convicted vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, has turned away food brought by relatives to his quarters at Korovou Prison, saying he is content to eat rice and dhal and wear a prison uniform.

And there is no possibility that he will be moved to the security island of Nukulau, where coup front man George Speight is held.

Prison chores and duties have not yet been allocated to Ratu Jope and the group convicted with him, said Commissioner of Prisons Aisea Taoka.

Taoka said the authorities were still processing the new inmates’ qualifications to determine which specific area to assign them to for daily chores.

He said Ratu Jope and his convicted associates were given time to settle in before their daily chores would be dished out to them.

Taoka said reasons for not sending Ratu Jope to Nukulau were his prerogative and his decision alone.

Asked why Ratu Jope would not be sent to Nukulau, Taoka said: "Because I decide so." He added that the board supported his decision.

And,contrary to earlier claims, Ratu Jope is confined in a dormitory accommodation, Taoka said.

He explained the type of accommodation was determined by factors like the duration of his sentence and medical history.

Taoka said Naboro was out of the question as far as Ratu Jope’s prison term was concerned. He said some prisoners were forced to sleep on concrete floors because of congestion. The prison facilities has room for 243 inmates but accommodates 394 prisoners.

The chief executive officer in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jioji Kotobalavu, said relatives of the Vice President had informed them that Ratu Jope was happy with conditions provided him at Korovou Prison.

Kotobalavu said some immediate relatives of the Vice President had called on the Prime Minister to inform him of their visits to Ratu Jope.

"He (Ratu Jope) sent them away when they brought him food and told them he was happier and more prepared to eat rice and dhal. They said he was happy with the uniform he had to wear. He is content to stay on in Korovou rather than on Nukulau," Kotobalavu said.

August 27, 2004

FijiSUN: http://www.sun.com.fj/

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