Monday, November 12, 2007

No evidence on coup ‘claim’

The Republic of the Fiji Military Forces has failed to produce any credible evidence of corruption that led to the December 5, 2006 coup.
Former Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes told the Fiji Sun, that all attempts done by the military to explain their claims, so far has lacked credibility.
He went on share his views on the alleged assassination plot made on Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, deputy army commander Colonel Samuela Saumatua and Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho.

Question (Q) - It’s almost a year since the military took over the government. The military had then justified their action saying there was a lot of corruption within the ousted government and that the Clean Up campaign was intended to eradicate this. Do you think the military has provided enough evidence to justify the reasons for their actions on December 5, 2006?
Beddoes (B) - No; as far as I can tell, they have up to this point and time, failed to produce any credible evidence to back up their claims of corruption, vote rigging and other allegations to justify their removal of the Qarase government in 2006.
Beyond reasonable doubt, that’s the extent to which the evidence to prove
their allegations against the Qarase government needs to reach. But all we have seen so far, is how they were conned by international conman Peter Foster, with his attempt to have some Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua executives implicate themselves and present this as evidence. This effort by Peter Foster was more to avoid his own day in court, and was not evidence of vote rigging, the other evidence we were given was the pathetic attempt by Dr Shaista Shameem’s election inquiry, which accepted as fact 50 unsubstantiated and un investigated claims of voter discrepancy. Both of these attempts lacked any credibility and basically did nothing to support the military’s claims.

Q - With the recent developments concerning the DPP’s initial statement outlining allegations of threats being leveled against its lawyers by the police, and its second statement denying there was any threats, do you think the DPP can continue to work independently after the alleged threats?
B - There is an old saying that says, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” so whatever finally emerges from their planned internal investigations into the initial statement released, one thing is clear, all is not what it seems, and this all manifested itself from the initial disagreements between Police and the DPP’s office.
This alleged interference by the Police in the DPP’s operations is a serious problem as it is the second such interference by Police in a short time that goes directly to what amounts to an attempt to ‘pervert the course of justice by military appointed persons in the police force.
First was the letter written by the Police Commissioner in the Francis Kean case, and now his personally selected deputy, is alleged to have made the threats to the DPP’s lawyers.
I support the actions and the stand taken by the DPP, and everyone who believes in justice should do likewise. The ability of the DPP to remain independent will rest squarely on the shoulders of the DPP and his staff, and we need to support and encourage them to remain steadfast in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Such actions by the Police go more to damaging their own reputation and credibility and it now seems clear that Teleni’s appointment as Commissioner has in fact “blurred” the demarcation line between the military and the Police, and he must correct this immediately, or else his legacy will be to have presided over the total destruction of Police’s credibility and worth.

Q - What are your views on the recent discovery by the police of an alleged assassination plot against the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and other prominent members of the interim government and the military?
A - Like many citizens who support peaceful means of conflict resolution, not violence, I have been shocked by this current allegation, experiencing coups is one thing and once you have had one, you are not too rattled by another, except of course, the suffering and loss we all have to endure as a result of coups.
An assassination plot however is quite another and I am relieved that no one was hurt or injured. But in light of the lack of evidence of previous claims by the military, I would like to see some solid evidence before I am convinced that such a plot was in fact in place.

Q - Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and the military council had assured that Fiji is still safe. Are you of the same view?
A - I am of the view that to be completely safe, we as citizens, must be allowed to express our opposing views freely without fear of any repercussions from the military or police or anyone else. Innocent citizens of Fiji have been killed, and others abused, intimidated and
threatened in the custody of authorities , and their families have had to endure humiliating arrogant and disrespectful treatment from the very people who are assuring us of our safety.
While I acknowledge that this is not what our tourists see, I feel that they should be made aware that in does occur and that Fiji citizens have and are suffering.
So as far as I am concerned, so long as just one single citizen is being bashed up, intimidated or threatened by the military or Police, then the people are not safe and the assurances given by the military council or interim PM rings “hallow” as their assurances seem easily dishonored by the people they supposedly lead. The most recent case that negates the assurances of people’s safety is that of Ballu Khan.
Ballu Khan’s continued detention, well beyond the constitutionally permitted time, the alleged bashing he received for ‘resisting arrest’ which his partner and four other witnesses say is an absolute lie, has been described as minor injuries by the Commissioner of Police, yet has hospitalised Mr Khan for the past six days under heavy military (apparently the same officers who beat him up) not police.
What is the value or worth of these assurances, when we continue to witness blatant disregards by officials under their command, for the very basic human rights of our citizens and foreign citizens like Mr Khan alike.

Q - Do you think the police force is compromised after the recent revelation by the DPP’s office that its lawyers were threatened by police? Do you think they are ruled by the military?
A - Absolutely, they have not only compromised their neutrality, they have “blurred” the demarcation line between the police and the military and they have lost credibility.
This was a concern expressed when Teleni was appointed commissioner and it is now becoming clear that the military totally controls the Police and has support from disgruntled officers of the force who have been favored by the events of December 5 2006.
In fact, it seems to me that a lot of what the interim administration has accused the Qarase government about, they are themselves doing today and one major aspect is the total lack of ‘transparency’ with respect to their dealings with certain issues like: The Nimilote and Rabaka cases, The Chief Justice’s case, the human rights abuses against individuals, and now the unprovoked bashing of NZ citizen Ballu Khan.

Q - The case against the 11 men implicated in the alleged assassination plot, lawyers for the accused persons revealed in the courts, that charges had already been laid before they were interviewed. What is your view on this?
A - There are many things that I find odd with this case, which is why I keep insisting on the production of tangible evidence, weapons, plans, photos etc. After all they have been under surveillance for weeks according to Teleni, so surely they secured vital evidence before proceeding?
As for the charges being made before the suspects were interviewed, this again just adds more questions then it answers!

Q - On the same note, do you think the DPP and police actions are justified in proceeding with the case without providing any evidence?
A - I am not legally qualified to comment on what the procedures are in such cases, except as I have said earlier, given the lack of evidence produced for past allegations by the same regime, we need to see the evidence? Without concrete evidence the case may not see the light of day, and I am sure the police know that, so I am looking forward to see how this whole matter is handled
Like anyone else, all of the accussed remain innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt and on this score, the police have their work cut out for them

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