Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alleged plotter wanted to join Fiji army

15 JAN 2008

Fiji millionaire Ballu Khan, who fronts court again today over his alleged involvement in the plot to kill Fiji’s interim Prime Minister and two Cabinet ministers, had wanted to be in the army.

But, during his school days in Fiji, Khan was offered a scholarship to study overseas and thought he can always come back to join the army.

This was not to be. He left Fiji in 1981 and returned a successful businessman in early 2000 only to be later singled out by the institution he had long yearned to be a part of.

He is alleged to be the instigator and financier of the alleged plot last year.

Khan has been at his Suva home under curfew since his first appearance in a late night court sitting last Tuesday.

He is charged with three counts of conspiracy to murder.

Police spokesman Isikeli Ligairi said police expect to lay more charges on Khan and this is being looked into by the Director of Public Prosecutions office.

The magistrate court in Suva had adjourned Khan’s case to today to allow the prosecution to disclose relevant documents before the case is referred to the High Court.

Fiji-born Khan is now a New Zealand citizen. His friends and family in Fiji fondly remember him for his rags to riches story.

Khan went to the University of the South Pacific in Suva. In 1981 he left Fiji for New Zealand, then to Australia and later to the United States.

He was born in Nalomolomo on Nairai Island in 1951. His father died in the Kadavulevu ship disaster, one of the worst in Fiji’s history, when he was five years old.

Khan says his family was so poor that they were not able to put even one meal on the table for the nine (six sisters and three brothers) in the family.

Khan’s mother used to work in a restaurant in Levuka for £2 a month and he did fishing.

He had his primary school education at Marist Convent in Levuka and then he went to Natabua High School.

He said that the basis of his achievements is because of his four years at Natabua.

Khan attracted the attention of many in Fiji business circles after his company formed a joint venture called Pacific Connex. His company won a $US9.2 million ($NZ11.9 million) contract to supply computers to the country's Native Lands Trust Board in 2004.

An audit report by KPMG Australia alleged the Board had failed to conduct a proper investigation before buying the computer system.

Khan was badly beaten during his November 3, 2007 arrest by the military. Ten others have been charged over the alleged plot.

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