(o) Assassination Plot Update 3.3.10: Guilty

UPDATE 7:00pm. Justice Paul Madigan said he is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the men are guilty of conspiracy to murder.  He said he was also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the men conspired with Ballu Khan and others to commit the felony. Sentences will be made tomorrow. 
Those found guilty are Naitasiri high chief, Inoke Takiveikata, former spy chief Metuisela Mua, businessman Sivaniolo Naulago, and five former Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldiers who had all been Mr Khan's bodyguards. A week ago Justice Madigan dismissed charges against the accused that they conspired also to murder the attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and the former finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry. 

Eight found guilty in kill plot trial

March 03, 2010 01:22:01 PM

Fiji high chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata and seven others have been found guilty on charges of plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and other senior members of government in 2007. The unanimous decision was delivered by a five-member team of assessors in the High Court in Suva moments ago. Assessors are advisers to the Court whose decision can be ovrruled by the judge. The verdict came after several hours of closed door deliberations. According to one source, Justice Paul Madigan will deliver his judgment at 4.30pm today, while another says 9:00am tomorrow. 

Tuesday's hearings
 The former director of the Fiji Intelligence Service, Colonel Metuisela Mua, said military state witness's allegations against him and others were fabricated
and indicated that someone was lying. Mua said: the military intelligence unit who gave evidence against them did not have any legal mandate; did not properly analyse the information; there were inconsistencies in State witness Lance Corporal Peniasi Kuli's report claiming they plotted to assassinate Commodore Bainimarama; the 14 secret meetings alleged by Lance Cpl Kuli were not properly graded; Major Isireli Narawa's statement that he met with Inoke Takiveikata at the Sofitel Hotel in Nadi was false, and that only the police were permitted to do this in accordance with the Police Act.The Prosecution’s case in the trial of eight men accused of trying to kill the Prime Minister, has been likened to the US case against the late Iraq president Saddam Hussein.

Defense lawyer Iqbal Khan likened the  claims against his clients to the US case against Saddam when intelligence reports that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction turned out to be false. He said the prosecution's case was similarly built on false information. Khan said military intelligence officers Corporal Peniasi Kuli and Major Isireli Narawa should also be in the dock alongside the accused because they too conspired to kill the PM, as they tried to get the accused involved. The case has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.Countering this claim  Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer David Toganivalu said inconsistencies by prosecution witnesses are not unusual. There doesn’t need to be direct evidence to convict someone in the court of law. All prosecution witnesses had placed the accused  at the scene of the 14 meetings that were allegedly held to discuss the assassination plot. And it was no coincidence that all the former CRW soldiers were working for Ballu Khan and that they had motive to try to kill Commodore Bainimarama because they tried it once in the year 2000.

Judge sums up
Link  one. Link two. Justice Paul Madigan urged assessors to put aside their political views and any feelings of sympathy or prejudice, and arrive at their opinions calmly.The assessors have retired behind closed doors to come to a verdict.  FijiVillage has a fuller  posting

Comments

Bring back Rule of Law said…
Well Croz - you and the other coup apologists and supporters will be happy with this result.

As for the Fijian patriots - the thoughts of all who value freedom, rule of law, human rights and democracy are with them.

This just might be the decision that escalates sanctions and other measures on this regime destroying the very fabric of a wonderful nation!
Croz said…
Funny you should say this. I'd just said to my wife no anti-government person would accept this as an honest judgment. Judge Madigan can still, of course, overrule or modify the Assessors' decision, but if he doesn't, you will presumably judge him also tainted.

The difference between us is that I would have accepted the decision whichever way it went. I think all or some of them were implicated in some way, but I'd have accepted their acquittal on the ground of reasonably doubt.

I trust the Australia and New Zealand governments will share my views, but as you say, they may not.
Ratu Sai said…
"It is the function of a judge not to make but to declare the law, according to the golden mete-wand of the law and not by the crooked cord of discretion"

Lord Edward Coke
Justice is done said…
This is fantastic. I can't wait to see the Qaranivalu back behinds bars where he belongs, along with his gaggle of co-conspirators. "Bring back the Law", you don't stand for justice. THIS is justice. A fair trial and a unanimous verdict of GUILTY. Croz, you have been utterly correct in preventing comment on the trial and not jeopardising the rights of the accused. Now that they've been sentenced, it's time to tell it like it is. Not only have some appalling individuals been tried and punished but there's now a powerful deterrent to any further plotters. These people were no better than the Speight gang and CRW mutineers. They'll have plenty of time in Naboro to contemplate the folly of their ways. And their kai vata like the lamentable exile, Jone Baledrokadroka, also need to have a good look at themselves.
TheMax said…
@ Bring back the rule of law

Which rule of law do you want to bring back? Is it the kind that got the former vice President Rt Seniloli released from prison under CSO due to an unknown illness?

Last time I checked they revealed in 2006 that they couldn't find the medical certificate that led the then Commisioner of Prison Aisea Taoka to release Rt Seniloli. Yes, the "deregistered" Attorney General at that time Qoroniasi Bale approved the release as well.
More Sanctions said…
@The Max
Perhaps the rule of law which respects the decision of 3 judges who declared the regime illegal rather than sacking them would be good for a start. And the rule of law that exacts justice on those who murdered Selesitano Kalounivale, Jone Davui, Epineri Bainimoli and Lagani Rokowaqa would also help. Not to mention those innocent Fijians murdered by soldiers under Bainimaram'a command but set free!!

(interestingly no indian names here????)

In many ways this decision is a good thing - it will be the catalyst to eventually turn the guns on the traitors and do a real clean up in Fiji!!

In the meantime congratulations to NZ on the latest visa rejections - well done!!
joe said…
Where is the taliban ballu. He is as guilty as the other 8 toxic wastes. Bring him back to Fiji now.
Jon said…
Joe’s comment that Mr Khan is as guilty as the 8 who will be sentenced today might, theoretically, be a completely valid one. However, practically, Mr Khan’s freedom is assured since Justice Bruce awarded a permanent stay of proceedings in 2008 as a result of his having being wrongfully detained by the police.

It will be interesting to see if the Director of Public Prosecution now tries to resurrect the original case against Mr Khan on the basis of some legal gambit.

If so, it will be fascinating to follow New Zealand’s strategy for handling the matter.
Wondering said…
Dear contributors, let's not forget that handing down sentences is one thing (and that's where the judiciary responsibility ends, and the jurisdiction of the Prison's Commissioner begins) - what the Prison's Department decides to do with these prisoners is another matter.

Maybe these convicted persons will be put into the Yellwo Ribbon project, be "re-trained" to enter society, and be released and even given jobs in Government, like Peniasi Kunatuba, the man convicted of scoundering millions of taxpayers dollars. He now has a cushy Government job, after woo-ing Prison Officials by doing well under the Yellow Ribbon Project - and all the man-hours, money and prosecutors time spent on sending him to gaol amounted to nothing.

Or maybe some or all these the 8 convicted persons will be released under Compulsory Supervision Order (and another simmilar criteria used previously), like Francis Kean, Rt Jope Seniloli and others. And these individuals were convicted of worse crimes - manslaughter and treason!

Whether or not you support the current administration or don't, you've got to admit that the Prison Department (before and after the coup) has always operated on its own accord, unbothered by the decision of judges. The Fiji Times had a great editorial headline when critizing the decision to release Rt Jope Seniloli under CSO... "When the Jailer becomes Judge".

I just home the Prisons Department respects the decision of the court, now and always.
TheMax said…
@ More Sanctions

When will you guys ever understand that in military law or even in constitutional law in some countries, the penalty for mutiny is death? In Britain, this is still the case and so is Fiji.

Those former CRW personnel who got killed as a result of the mutiny at Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Nabua met their fate not of someone else making but their own. First, they were guilty of treason for kidnapping a democratically-elected government and house- arrested them inside the parliamentary complex for 56 days. That is an act of terrorism itself. Then they mutinied and tried to kill the Commander RFMF. What else do you think loyalist government soldiers would do in that situation? Of course, they were going to be killed.

Maybe you are not aware of this but long before the events of May 2000, the CRW unit stationed within QEB have been guilty of insubordination for defying the Commander RFMF time and again when he calls for full parade of all military personnel at Nabua. They usually never attend and just dressed in civilian clothes hanging around their small camp next to the military hospital inside QEB. This was a continuous point of contention between the CRW unit and the 3FIR battalion who are responsible for looking after QEB.

The original CRW unit personnel who started this special force were excellent soldiers and never defied their commander. They were exemplary in their conduct that as a result, most of them were hired by international bodies, organizations and governments as security personnel or bodyguards because they were proven highly disciplined. They became highly sought after and highly paid. Some of them are still away overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of the world.

Now all the good and exemplary discipline left behind by the pioneer CRW personnel were abused by those that were recruited later. The new ones became thickheaded and abused the reputation of the pioneers and the RFMF as a whole by defying orders and commands. They were easily manipulated by corrupt politicians and individuals.

Bainimarama had the decency and humanity to accept the treasonous CRW unit personnel back into the RFMF in the hope that they can be debriefed and brought back into the fold as loyal and exemplary soldiers. This was done right after they were found guilty of treason for holding and imprisoning an elected government. They were even allowed to have family visits and socialize with others inside QEB. Yet, for all the goodwill Bainimarama showed them they hatched a plan, with the prodding and financial support of corrupt businessmen, politicians such as Duvuloco, and even foreign governments to kill Bainimarama and other senior loyal military personnel within RFMF.

There were some who met fateful days after December 5th 2006. They became “collateral damage” to the painful and arduous task to remake Fiji so that this country lives up to its true potential. These are the unfortunate ones but the task to right the wrongs of the past is too important to let go and pass us by.

The real clean up in Fiji is what the current leadership of the RFMF is doing. They are getting rid of thieves, murderers, saboteurs and deceivers from government, the church, the vanua and so forth. They are also correcting the wrongs of almost all previous government administrations. They are also reviewing and correcting the provincial administrations to better represent everyone in the province immaterial of race, colour or creed.

The new Fiji is at hand. It will be much more robust and vibrant. New Zealand and Australia can continue with their ban but Fiji is moving forward. They days of colonialism is over. Hegemony over the Pacific island countries MUST come to an end.
Anonymous said…
....the max.... thank you for the enlightening! I never knew the story behind the killings, as people kept harping but about it, yes agree with you all the way! Yes they were not just ordinary citizens who were killed for no reason!
Malo pito!
Ranadi
Subhasha said…
A point that seems to have been missed in this landmark trial, largely because of Ballu Khan's absence from the dock, was the kinds of things that many of the revealed (and unrevealed) faces had lost or stood to lose because of Bainimarama.
One, Naulago was Ballu's boy. They were together in the $5m Pacific Connex deal with NLTB. There were many "cuts" involved before that deal was finally signed. That was a feature of the decision-making model centralized by the Qarase government.
Cuts and boardroom (meaning dark, cut-throat, money focused, whats-in-it-for-me) type DM was a hallmark of Qarase's rule.
Two, we seem to have forgotten the run-around given to Digicel by Qarase's boys. Few know that Ballu and Naulago were preparing an alternative proposal to Digicel and needed time. Qarase was all for it, again because of the cuts!
Anonymous said…
..... and not to mention Ballu Khan's involvement in the Ba Holdings Saga! He paid people to coup the Ba Holdings!!(all because of BH;s involvement with Digicel) ...he rightly deserve the beatings he got!!!!! he is nothing but evil!!! "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND" Digicel have now nicely settled in Fiji !!! and Pacific Connex???????????gone down the toilet!!!!!!!in yr face ballu!!!!

Ranadi

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