FIJI SEEKS REPATRIATION OF OFFICER OVER COUP

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 31) – Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Isikia Savua, yesterday denied being approached by the country’s military to help in the repatriation of an officer wanted for questioning in the 2000 coup and military mutiny.

Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini has not as yet responded to an order by Fiji President Josefa Iloilo to return to Fiji from New York in connection with the coup investigation.

Speaking from New York, Mr Savua said the military does not have the power to tell him what to do.

Mr Savua said the military should liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which would then contact the United Nations.

"It's government to UN and not the military to UN," he said. "We don't work at the Commander's bequest."

Army spokesman Captain Neumi Leweni said Mr Savua had been asked to make a submission to the UN for Lt-Col Tarakinikini's return after the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, rejected the officer’s attempt at resignation.

In a statement from the military, Capt Leweni said Ratu Josefa had not accepted Lt-Col Tarakinikini's resignation and ordered his immediate return.

Capt Leweni said the former military spokesman was wanted back home so he could be investigated in connection with the May 2000 upheaval and the November 2 mutiny.

Lt-Col Tarakinikini's lawyer, Samuela Matawalu, said his client had not received any formal notice from the military.

He applied to resign on February 27, 2002.

"That is the first time we've heard of the result of his application to resign since 2002," he said.

Mr Matawalu said he would contact Lt-Col Tarakinikini and let him know what was happening.

He said his client would need time to consider what steps to take after he received written notice of the rejection of his resignation.

Mr Matawalu said he would see have to see whether to accept Ratu Josefa's decision or challenge it in a court of law.

February 1, 2005

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

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