Dictator Frank Bainimarama narrowly escaped New Zealand charges days before the 2006 coup.
There were already sedition charges against him in Fiji, where the police were also keen to talk to him regarding the murders of the CRW soldiers that followed the 2000 mutiny. He was aware of all of this.
Now he is calling Lt Colonel Ulilakeba Mara a “fugitive” from law and seeking extradition from Tonga.
By VICTOR LAL and RUSSELL HUNTER
Betrayal and cowardice are two traits that are deeply ingrained in the veins of dictator Frank Bainimarama, the self-anointed illegal Prime Minister of Fiji.
Our claims are based on five years of painstaking research, personal interviews, top secret State, military and other confidential documents. For a detailed account of our findings, please wait for our forthcoming book tentatively entitled Treason in Paradise: Commodore Frank Bainimarama and the 2006 Fiji Coup – The Inside Story.
We will shortly disclose how Bainimarama left New Zealand in November 2006 where the local police had reversed an earlier decision to arrest him on a charge of perverting the course of justice in a foreign jurisdiction. If convicted he faced a maximum sentence of seven years. Perverting the course of justice in a foreign jurisdiction is a crime in New Zealand.
Remember there was also a pending charge of sedition in Fiji. Plus the police were closing in the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit murder inquiry. There is no suggestion we know of that Bainimarama played a personal role in the murders. (Editor’s note: But see Bainimarama’s version of the mutiny and his role to SkyNews Australia on the left column of C4/5; Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama, Part 3 of 3 video).
The Fiji police wanted to establish whether or not Bainimarama was an accessory to the crimes. But Bainimarama had avoided at least two invitations for a non-caution police interview but couldn’t maintain that indefinitely. And he knew that.
It was one of many motives which prompted him a week after his departure from New Zealand, where he had gone for his grand daughter’s christening, to overthrow the democratically elected multi-party SDL-FLP government in December 2006.
But, first, let us examine the “Fugitive” Bainimarama’s pattern of betrayal and cowardice.
The 2000 Speight Coup
Despite conventional but uncontested narrative, we can disclose that Bainimarama was behind the 2000 George Speight putsch that resulted in the overthrow of the Chaudhry government and the subsequent hostage crisis that lasted for the next 56 days.
And the mutiny that followed in November 2000 was a result of his betrayal of Speight and others after the signing of the Muanikau Accord. Bainimarama not only deceived the then President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the father of Ratu Ului, to step aside at the height of the crisis, but he also betrayed the “Speight Gang” in order to ensure that the way was now open for him to enter the corridors of political power in Fiji.
Bainimarama, according to confidential documents and statements in our possession, had suggested military rule for at least five years shortly after the release of Speight’s hostages. Certainly some of his senior officers at the time were aware that he thoroughly relished his taste of power, when he took over as president in 2000 before handing over to an interim civilian regime, led by Laisenia Qarase. But Bainimarama longed to taste it again.
We are well aware of the much publicised “cassava patch” dash that Bainimarama made as the bullets were flying all over the Nabua barracks.
What he has refused to disclose is that he began suffering post trauma stress syndrome. In the aftermath of the mutiny Bainimarama had brushed aside all offers and suggestions of counselling thinking it perhaps unsoldierly.
The full results of that can only be guessed at, by psychologically unqualified writers, but results there certainly were.
We may recall that three loyalist soldiers died during the 2000 mutiny. The 20 or so wounded would all recover. The scar of that day, however, has never healed.
The potential for violent retribution was obvious – but few in Fiji expected what followed from a once proud disciplined service.
Five members of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare unit were quite literally kicked to death the following day, November 3. Post mortem photographs in our possession display viciously mutilated corpses barely recognisable as human remains. At least one of the dead played no part in the mutiny. It seemed CRW membership alone was sufficient motive for the most brutal of murders.
Acting Police Commissioner Moses Driver pronounced the deaths as murder and launched an investigation – a deed that marked him for later attention by the military. Bainimarama remains the principal person of interest in the murder inquiry. To date, no one has been charged over those murders.
The shootings and killings were over – but the stain of the 2000 mutiny would never be removed. And Bainimarama could never feel safe again – from those whom he betrayed and the long arm of the law.
He became a deeply paranoid individual who concluded that his career advancement depended on the barrel of the gun and pliable military men around him.
Bainimarama wanted coup in 2003/2004
To be continued
Editor’s Note: We publish below excerpts of the exclusive interview Frank Bainimarama gave on his 55th birthday to Graham Davis for SkyNews Australia. The video was uploaded by SkyNews Australia on 2 May 2009
Davis: You were nearly killed? How close save was it?
Bainimarama: Very close. We were here having lunch when the rebel soldiers came across – and three of my bodyguards then closed in and helped my escape – they held the fort here while I moved away from here
You wanted to kill Captain Shane Stevens? Is that true that you wanted to shoot him yourself personally?
No, that’s not true that I wanted to shoot him personally– In fact, I was in hospital when he was brought in. I went to visit some of my soldiers that got shot that day. And I stopped the guys from going in to bring him out
I saved the life of one of the guys that eventually got killed…He was brought down to the naval base.
When you say you saved his life? When you say you saved the life of the man….You stopped them from killing him?
Initially. I didn’t stop them from killing him. I stopped them from bashing him up.
But they killed him later?
Sometime later on
They were beaten to death, won’t they?
They were beaten to death. It was spur of the moment. And I can understand the emotions that went through the troops on that day. In fact, I can say that they were very lucky that they all lived
Did you want them dead?
I didn’t want them dead but I wanted them punished – You must understand it was a mutiny. These guys came in to kill us – I don’t think a lot of people understand that? These guys came in to kill us. So people really don’t expect us to kiss them on their cheeks.