FIJI COURT MARTIAL PANEL ASKED FOR LENIENCY

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, August 3) – The lawyer of the eight former Fiji Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldiers on trial today asked the General Court Martial panel to consider their time spent in detention when handing down sentence.

"My clients maintain that they did not have any knowledge that the mutiny was going to take place," said defense lawyer Vodo Tuberi.

"I ask the panel to also take into consideration that the sentencing for the accused cannot be greater or severe than what they were given in the previous court martial."

Tuberi said the men were obeying orders when they took part in the mutiny in 2000.

He added that this was because of their training in the military to obey orders of superiors without question.

The former soldiers on trial are Private Beniame Sokiveta, Filimoni Raivalu, Jona Nawaqa, Ropate Nakau, Sergeant Keni Naika, Kalisito Vuki, Corporal Lagilagi Vosabeci and Lance-corporal Usaia Rokobigi.

The panel will deliver a sentencing next week after the members have deliberated on the mitigations of the accused and submissions of the prosecution.

Meanwhile, accused Corporal Lagilagi Vosabeci chose to speak to the panel seeking forgiveness for his actions.

In tears Vosabeci said "I desire to move ahead as I have gone through the hardest times in my life."

"I want to forget the past and forgive those who had assaulted me after I surrendered and seek forgiveness from those I might have hurt.

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

August 4, 2006

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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