Monday, May 19, 2008

Coup immunity ‘must have conditions’

Coup immunity ‘must have conditions’
19 MAY 2008

Fiji’s deposed Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes says any decision to grant immunity to coup makers must be negotiated and accompanied by strict conditions.

Reacting to the former Vice President, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s suggestion that immunity be granted to coup makers so that Fiji can find a solution to its current crisis, Beddoes says the proposed conditions, if breached, should cause the granted immunity to become null and void.

He says soldiers who participated in the act of treason should then become automatically subject to the full extent of the law, backdated to the time of the offence.

“Otherwise, we will as we did with Mr (Sitiveni) Rabuka, send out a signal to all future ‘coup makers’ that it’s okay to commit treason sometime in the future, because in the end, you’ll get immunity, and despite your guilt, you will not have to personally account for your part in the deaths of innocent people, the grief you caused their families, the loss of families homes and incomes, and the hundreds of millions of dollars loss that your actions have caused Fiji and its people,” he said.

Beddoes said in the beginning of coups, we witness all the ‘tough talk’ and statements about how coup makers believe in what they are doing and how it’s right and just, and how it is in the best interest of the people.

“Yet in the same breath, they want ‘immunity from prosecution’, which for me really means they don’t believe a single word they say or action they take, which is why they need to hide behind the protection of immunity from prosecution,” he said.

“If anyone engaged in the act of treason believes that what they are doing is right, why do they need any protection?

“They should be committed enough to their cause to stand up against the most rigorous investigation and inquiry and know in their hearts that they are right and stand tall and face the consequences of your actions, just as George Speight and others with him did for their part in the 2000 coup.”

Beddoes said immunity must be negotiated and not given carte blanche.

He said whatever was decided for the 2006 coup conspirators must be extended to George Speight and his group.

“After all, why should one set of coup makers get off scot free, while another gets punished?” he said.

He said there was no difference between the George Speight coup and the Bainimarama coup because they were both acts of treason and as destructive as each other.

“The only difference is, George never got immunity, he faced the consequences of his actions and is paying the price for his beliefs, misguided though they are. He has been paying the price for his actions,” he said.

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