FIJI RELEASES FIVE SOLDIERS SERVING TIME FOR MUTINY

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 4) – Some of the Fiji soldiers sentenced to jail for mutiny during the country’s 2000 coup have reportedly been released to serve their sentences extramurally.

Radio Legend says it has been reliably informed that five former soldiers of the rebel Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit have been released by the commissioner of prisons, Aisea Taoka.

The radio says those released were serving three year sentences or less and under the Prisons Act their sentences were reduced by one third for good behaviour.

They were in prison for about a year before qualifying for release as extramural prisoners.

Mr Taoka has refused to comment on the number of soldiers released except to say that a total of 123 prisoners around Fiji are serving their sentences extramurally.

He says he does not need to explain or give more information on who has been released from prison.

But it is known that the former lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and government senator Ratu Josefa Dimuri were released last month just 11 days into their 8-month sentence for coup related offences.

Meanwhile, security has been tightened around the Suva courts for the sentencing later today of five prominent figures found guilty of illegal assembly and consorting with people carrying firearms.

The five are a former army lawyer, Major Tevita Bukarau; the former director of the Fiji Intelligence Service, Col Metuisela Mua; businessman Jioji Bakoso, Viliame Sausauwai and Eroni Lewaqai.

May 5, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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