Thursday, October 18, 2007

CRW soldiers tell of brutal attack

Last updated 10/17/2007
A former member of a disbanded anti-terrorist military unit told a court yesterday of how he and his colleagues were subjected to beatings by fellow soldiers in the wake of the attempted mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in November 2000.
Convicted mutineer (Lance Corporal) Barbados Mills said the soldiers beating them up had been acting on the orders of former army officer Lieutenant- Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka.
Mills and (Private) Beniame Sokiveta, former members of the disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare unit, were testifying at the start of a compensation case brought against the military in the High Court in Suva.
Mills said a group of 10 armed soldiers took him while he was under arrest at the Nabua Police Station to the nearby Rifle Range in Vatuwaqa.
He said this was done under the authorisation of then Lieutenant- Colonel Baledrokadroka.
He said he had already surrendered but was still subjected to a severe beating and a medical report to prove this could not be located after his treatment.
Mills was among 40 former CRW soldiers convicted of attempting to take control of the military headquarters at Nabua on November 2, 2000.
He said he was only following orders.
He said he surrendered himself into the custody of Lieutenant-Colonel Inia Seruiratu and Colonel Patrick Hennings two days after the mutiny.
He said he and other CRW soldiers were taken by the two senior officers to a military institution in Nasinu at 6pm and later taken to the police station at 4am.
Mills said they were detained at the station for 10 hours before a group of soldiers under the orders of Lt-Col Baledrokadroka picked them up and were told they were being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Barracks.�However they took us to Rifle Range,� he said.
�They (soldiers) called us one by one and I was the last one to go out of the vehicle.
�I could hear my mates screaming and guns being used to beat them.
�Sergeant Salato told his boys to bring me out and I was hit with something like a baseball stick on the chest and on the back of my knee�. The court heard that Mills was later taken to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital on the recommendation of the military doctor. He said his request for a medical report fell on deaf ears. Justice Filimone Jitoko questioned military lawyer Major Kitione Tuinaosara and Mills' lawyer Sevuloni Valenitabua on whether there was a medical report written. Mr Valenitabua said they could not obtain the medical report.
Mills then told Justice Jitoko that he did not report the beating but told police in a statement the full story of what occurred.
The court also heard that the police statement could not be obtained.
Sokiveta said he was also taken with Mills and suffered broken fingers and an arm after the beating.
Sokiveta, who also did not obtain a medical report, showed a scar on his forearm arm to Justice Jitoko. Pte Sokivete confirmed Mills testimony and said he recognised Baledrokadroka's signature on the document, which authorised their release from the police station.
Mr Valenitabua representing both soldiers said his clients were claiming compensation because their constitutional rights were breached by the beating they received. Mjr Tuinaosara said senior officers with the RFMF knew the laws against abuse on prisoners. He continued to question the credibility of the two soldiers' statements, who remained adamant that they were beaten. Baledrokadrokais expected to take the witness stand today.

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