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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 18) - Fiji navy commander Francis Kean has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after State prosecutors today reduced his charge from murder.

Until this morning, Kean was charged with the murder of 32-year-old salesman, John Whippy, on December 31 last year following a wedding reception at the Suva Yacht Club.

The sudden twist caught many present in the High Court in Suva by surprise. Justice Gerard Winter had scheduled trial to begin at mid-day today with the State's opening statement.

However, proceeding was brief. Kean pleaded guilty soon after State prosecutor informed the court of the reduced charge.

Kean will be sentenced on Thursday following his mitigation.

Lawyer Haroon Ali Shah, whom Kean had engaged only yesterday to replace Abhay Singh, said outside court that "it was fair for the State to reduce the charge to manslaughter."

"Justice has been done," he said.

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