Tuesday, March 09, 2010

NZ Lawyer Slams Fiji Trial & Military Involvement

New Zealand lawyer slams Fiji trial, military would have forgiven rebel soldiers


09 March 2010

The lawyer for the alleged mastermind of a plot to assassinate Fiji's military leader has sharply criticised the trial that found eight men guilty of conspiracy to murder.

His client, Ballu Khan, who was acquitted by a court in Suva with a permanent stay, is at present in New Zealand.

New Zealand lawyer Peter Williams QC has questioned the validity of the court process.

He said: “I think the international press should make some inquiries into the validity of the trial and how the panel was put together and who appointed the judge and who appointed the assessors.

“And whether or not those appointments were made by the military and if so wasn't the military one of the main participants in the trial itself; one of the parties.

“All the evidence came from the military, the victims are supposed to be military so it would be a very interesting exercise if somebody - a journalist - was prepared to dig in and have a look at those lines of inquiry.”

Ballu Khan was beaten and spent weeks in hospital under armed guard before his acquittal.

Meanwhile, Fiji Land Force Commander Brigadier Pita Driti said the military was more than willing to forgive the former CRW soldiers who were involved in the 2000 mutiny.

Brigadier Driti made the comment following the jailing of five former CRW soldiers who were convicted of trying to assassinate Commodore Bainimarama.

Brigadier Driti said the Military was ready to forgive these soldiers after 2000 but the former CRW men had misguided loyalties and were following the wrong group of people.

“Forgiveness is always there for these boys, especially if they have proven to us that they’re remorseful for their past actions. But we should never interfere with the rule of law. When one is caught with vertical intentions that will cause instability in the country, then these people deserve to be punished appropriately.”

Despite the conciliatory tone, Brigadier Driti had a stern warning for anyone trying to overthrow the current Government.

He said the military will catch anyone that may try to destabilize the government

“We had infiltrated them using agents to disclose the information about their assassination plot. Now that was one strategy in uncovering this last plot and we were successful. We will therefore continue to monitor and have our men active on the ground to gather intelligence and let people know that whoever is planning such a plot will eventually get caught.”


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