FIJI MUTINY TRIAL WINDS DOWN

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 26) – A court martial proceeding against eight former Fiji soldiers charged with mutiny will today sum up, said military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni.

After the sum up, the court martial president and his officers are expected to decide on a verdict.

He said the court martial proper would be conducted this morning after the proceedings were adjourned yesterday.

Last week the court martial heard closing submissions from the prosecutor and defense lawyers.

The eight former soldiers facing mutiny charges are Sergeant Kalisito Vuki, Sergeant Keni Naika, Corporal Lagilagi Vosabeci, Private Jona Nawaqa, Private Usaia Rokobigi, Private Filimone Raivalu and Private Ropate Nakau.

In March, defence lawyer Vodo Tuberi questioned the credibility and honesty of the witnesses.

Mr Tuberi told the court that there were conflicting accounts by some witnesses in their statements during their court appearance and their written statements.

He made the comment after Corporal Isikeli Delaivuna, a signals operator with the Third Battalion told the court that one of the accused, Lagilagi Vosabeci was disarmed when he entered the 3FIR storeroom.

This was despite having said in his written statement, dated January 22 of 2001 that Vosabeci was armed when he saw him inside the 3FIR storeroom.

Mr Tuberi also questioned Semesa Lase's testimony yesterday after he accused Lase of being dishonest.

The defense lawyer made the accusation after Private Lase signed his summary of evidence proceedings written statement, recorded on July 31 of 2001, as a Lance Corporal.

Lase told the court that he was a private and he did not know how he was referred to as a corporal in his written statement.

[PIR editor’s note: These former Counter Revolutionary Warfare members face charges related to the mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Nabua in November 2000, where eight soldiers were killed.]

July 27, 2006

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

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