FIJI WIDOW COMPENSATED FOR SOLDIER’S MURDER

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 6) – A widow has been awarded FJ$24,000 [US$13,537] for the death of her husband – a former Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit soldier – after a mutiny in Fiji on November 2, 2000.

Magistrate Ajmal Khan said there was no evidence that Ana Vusamu Kalounivale's husband, Selestino Kalounivale, was a mutineer.

Corporal Kalounivale was pronounced dead just after midnight on the day of the mutiny from injuries he said he sustained from a beating by soldiers.

Magistrate Ajmal Khan awarded Mrs. Kalounivale the maximum amount under the Workers Compensation Act.

Khan said there was "no direct evidence of the deceased being a mutineer except that he was a Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldier. On November 2, 2000, he was at home attending to his sick child while his wife was at work. Around 3:30 p.m. on the day, he left home after receiving a phone call. He informed his wife he was going to work. Meanwhile, at the camp, some Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldiers were involved in a mutiny where they had taken over the camp."

He said the Counter Revolutionary unit overtook the camp at 3:30 p.m. and the army retook it at 6:00 p.m. that day.

He said Kalounivale had his knapsack bag, was in civilian clothing and was later picked up by soldiers in the Tamavua area.

"His knapsack was searched and it contained camouflaged army trousers, detonator, cord, knife and a water container. He was taken to the army commander (Voreqe) Bainimarama at the naval base. After some half hour, the soldiers were instructed by the commander to take the deceased to the Central Police Station. He was handed over to the Central Police Station. After 4:00 p.m. that day Selestino was seen taken out of the Central Police Station along Pratt Street in an army van by four to five soldiers. He was on the floor of the van and the bystanders could hear swearing, hitting with rifle butts and kicking at the back of the tray."

He said Kalounivale was dead by midnight.

Khan said that around midnight that same day Kalounivale was taken to the mortuary at Colonial War Memorial Hospital Hospital.

He said a post mortem examination six days later found the deceased died due to severe injuries resulting from severe assault.

"The cause of death was found to be multiple blunt force injuries including head injuries with subdural hemorrhage," Khan said.

Khan said the compensation would be distributed amongst Mrs. Kalounivale and her four children.

He said the court was faced with issues of whether the deceased was in employment at the time of the incident and whether he suffered personal injury by accident or in the course of employment.

He said the deceased was still employed by the military on the day that he suffered the injuries.

"I find that the deceased had gone to work on that day. This injury and assault was an unlooked-for mishap and not expected or designed by the deceased. It was an accidental injury suffered by the deceased," Khan said.

"There was no evidence that the deceased was personally a mutineer and the court can not assume as such."

Khan said a full schedule was to be filed in the registry agreed between parties and also awarded costs to Mrs. Kalounivale of FJ$1,000 [US$564].

April 7, 2006

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