SIX FIJIANS SENTENCED IN COUP RETRIAL

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By Frederica Elbourne

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Dec. 21) – Six Fijians who were earlier acquitted of multiple offences at the height of the May 2000 coup have been found guilty at a new trial.

Of a total of nine men related to the case, two men remain at large.

Valelevu Magistrate John Semisi yesterday handed out sentences of up to three years to six of the seven men who looted farms at Muainaweni during May 2000.

Those sentenced include Lasarusa Bevu, Iliesa Vukulu, Lepani Vosalevu, Tomasi Vosalevu, Kaminieli Roko and Usaria Tadau.

The retrial of seven men related to offences against Indo-Fijian farmers in the Muainaweni farming community.

The Director of Public Prosecutions office, which defied threats in lodging an appeal, said the offences ranged from larceny of crops and cattle and were carried out by men from Muainaweni.

"They had formed a mob on the night of May 19, 2000, and stoned the home of an Indo-Fijian farmer named Hari Prasad, brother of Chandrika Prasad," said DPP Josaia Naigulevu. "After stoning the home, the mob forced entry using weapons and violence against the family including children."

The mob disabled a generator, ransacked the home, stole food and personal items, and inflicted terror, loss and injury to those who sheltered at the house, he said.

The mob returned a few days later to steal and slaughter cattle on the roadside while they looted root crops to take to those who occupied Parliament during the illegal takeover.

The nine suspects were tried and acquitted before another magistrate.

"The High Court upheld the appeal and ordered a fresh start to the trial on the basis that the first was so flawed as to amount to no trial at all," Naigulevu said.

December 22, 2004

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

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