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Five prominent Fijians jailed over 2000 coup (5 May 05)


Five prominent Fijians jailed over 2000 coup (5 May 05)

SUVA : A Fijian judge jailed five prominent Fijians for up to two and a half years for their part in a May 2000 coup.

Former Fiji Intelligence Service director Metuisela Mua was imprisoned Thursday for two and half years along with former chief military lawyer Tevita Bukarau and prominent nationalist Eroni Lewaqai. Another two leading nationalists, Viliame Sausauwai and Joji Bakoso, received sentences of two years and 15 months respectively.

The five were found guilty last week on charges of consorting with people carrying firearms and unlawful assembly during the armed overthrow of the government of Mahendra Chaudhry.

Magistrate Ajmal Khan told a packed courtroom that the convicted men held positions of power and could have persuaded people not to support the armed takeover of parliament. Instead they had incited the public during the uprising led by failed businessman George Speight.

Last week while handing down the guilty verdict, Khan told the court the five men were close to the leaders of the coup headed by Speight, who is now serving a life sentence for treason.

The five men were allowed into areas held by Speight's men after the seizure of parliament on May 19, 2000, and were seen inside the building during the 56-day siege when Chaudhry's cabinet was held hostage.

Khan said Thursday the five men's years of service to the government were taken into account in not sentencing them to the maximum six year penalty. 
- AFP

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