Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mutiny Ghost

Mutiny ghosts must be laid to rest
By MAIKA BOLATIKIPolitical Ediotr - 17 Feb 2007.

The ghosts of the November 2000 mutiny at the Nabua military barracks still haunt the nation.Members of the Counter-Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) unit of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), led by Captain Shane Stevens, tried to remove military commander and now Interim Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, from office.Their mission failed and four of them paid the ultimate price when soldiers loyal to the commander beat them to death.
A total of 42 soldiers from the unit were charged and faced courts martial.The 42 soldiers or rebel soldiers as they were called, have been sentenced and some have served their prison terms. Some are still serving.Accusations were also levelled against former prime minister and army commander Sitiveni Rabuka.In a media interview on November 12, 2000, Commodore Bainimarama said that, at the height of the mutiny, the former prime minister visited the camp with his army uniform in a car. In fact, according to Commander Bainimarama, Mr Rabuka was ready to take over his job.We all know that Mr Rabuka was so charged but cleared by a court. The High Court ruled in favour of the former commander because of insufficient evidence and he is now a free man.
Most of the files on the 2000 mutiny have been closed, but one is still open and it is the one that deals with the barbaric killing of the four CRW soldiers.When will this investigation be completed?It has taken seven years so far.The police will have the answer.Isn’t it too long, especially when all those involved are here in the country?Can the police tell us why the investigation has taken this long?Each time we hear from the investigators, they are still working on the case.
As recently as February 15, director criminal investigations department (CID) Acting Assistant Commissioner Crime Josefa Rasiga confirmed that Commodore Bainimarama was not a party to the killing of his soldiers.According to the director CID, the commander was not even in the camp when the incident took place and was not aware of the event.The commander, as we all know, had to abandon his fort as his bodyguards had to take him away for his own safety.In fact, he was taken away at the height of the shootings when the rebel soldiers had wanted to kill him.In the process, his bodyguards risked their lives for the safety of their boss.Were these people honoured for what they did?
Now the rumour that the commander was involved has been put to rest, there is still a mystery that needs to be solved and that is the identity of the people behind the killing of these CRW soldiers.For any military action to take place, there will usually be a chain of command before a final order is given.Usually the final order comes from a senior officer.Surely this would also have applied during the mutiny.Have the investigators touched on this issue?
This month, I managed to have an interview with Ana Kalounivale, the wife of Selesitino Kalounivale, one of the CRW soldiers who was killed on that fateful night of November 2, 2000.Here are her questions to those who were responsible.
1) We now know the commander is not accountable. Then who is accountable?
2) The commander himself gave the order that my late husband be taken to Suva Central Police Station. Who gave the order to release him from CPS at about 11pm that same night?Ms Kalounivale demands justice for what was done to her husband and the other three men.“I know my beloved husband is gone for good, but all I need is to know the whole truth of what led to his barbaric killing,’’ she said.“It is in fact cold murder.”Ms Kalounivale said she did not hear from her husband. The only news she heard was that he was in the mortuary.
A post-mortem was carried out on November 8, 2000 and the report and the doctor’s comments were: - l The body was that of a healthy, muscular, well-built man with a degree of coronary artery disease greater than expected for a man of 34 years.
l He sustained numerous blunt impacts, particularly to the head - front and back of the scalp, forehead, eyes, cheeks, mouth has received multiple blows. These have resulted in bleeding around the brain.
l The pattern of injuries indicates that this man has been severely assaulted.
l In my opinion, the cause of death is(1a Multiple blunt force injuries including head injuries with subdural haemorrageAccording to the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem, the deceased apparently arrived at the mortuary wrapped in bloodstained hospital sheets.
“I was told that a number of patients had arrived at hospital unclothed,” the doctor said in the report.Now where is the missing link?This link needs to be established and confirmed.This is very important, especially when Mr Kalounivale was in police custody.
Who gave the order for his removal from CPS?Surely there is a book at CPS that usually records all those people taken into custody.This book records all the names and particulars of those taken in.Was it filled on that night and where is it now?
Who was on duty at CPS on that night?
Where is that book now?
Can someone from the police provide answers?
Surely the statement recorded that night would be very useful in the investigation.We cannot just let the CRW case be shelved.
Now that the commander has been cleared, who then gave the orders?
Surely the soldiers involved would not have killed their fellow men through mere frustration.They have to follow orders.We know that when the commander was out of the camp, he was still very much in control.Did anyone give the orders without his approval? If so, who?Was this insubordination?There are many unanswered questions that surround the killing of the CRW soldiers.The answer is here in Fiji and some people are withholding important information that would lead to the culprits being identified.We have to see that justice is done and that is all that the families of those CRW soldiers want.I am not underestimating the police as they did a marvellous job of helping to bring justice to those involved in the mutiny.But the public at large want to know the truth behind the killings. The people involved are there in the camp, but no one is brave enough to come out.From the post-mortem report, we can establish that Mr Kalounivale was murdered.The medical evidence clear, but we need more vital evidence to finally bring justice to this case.Surely the truth is out there and the police have to find out.Remember this famous quote: “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”We sincerely hope justice will prevail.

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