While Aiyaz Khaiyum (the principal target of military's wrath) went into hiding in Sigatoka, Bainimarama illegally, and unconstitutionally, went to the army camp to announce that his side-kick Viliame Naupoto was going to be acting commander; Khaiyum's d'Hont electoral system still holds a parliamentary place for Naupoto who is on run from long arm of the law
From Fijileaks Archives:
BUKARAU: "Naupoto gave a short brief, which basically said, "if you try anything to escape or untie the rope, you will be dead". He said this 2-3 times. There were about 6 men in front of us, and a lot more at the back with weapons...We received kicks, rifle butts and continuous verbal abuses. George, Ligairi and Silatou were getting most of the abuses and we had people rubbing their boots on the back of our heads. We than sailed to Nukulau through Beqa waters. We were constantly assaulted and abused thoughout the 2 hours or so journey. We were soaked and from the rough seas. I could feel that certain individuals did not have their hearts and minds on what was happening (assault and abuses). I received a swelling on the left side of my face and 3 days later we were taken to hospital."
KOROVUSERE: "It was still dark when we reached the Naval Base. Naupoto warned us that if we tried to do anything, we would be shot. Mua was kicked on the esohagus. Silatolu at one stage had difficuty breathing due to the continuous punching. I was asked about Adi Samanunu and what she was doing in the country. I was kicked on the face. They told us to experience life in the navy and one of our detainees was threatened of being sexually assaulted, and that it was normal in the Navy. Once we arrived near Nukulau, one of the boys said I was his Commanding Officer in Sinai and Lebanon, whilst I was being kicked and had his foot on my head. Our hands were released at about 0800hrs once we were inside the perimeter fence."
LIGAIRI: "Upon arrival [at the Naval Base] I was the second last to board the awaitig ship. We were moved to the forecastle and we were handled roughly. NAUPOTO briefed us and his orders were very aggressive. I had a feeling that he didn't care about who we were. I never expected Fijians to behave and act in that manner. I was so confused that I did not listen to what they were saying or asking. A lot of questions about my ability to change myself into rats and other things were put forward. I was assaulted with punches, rifle butts, kicks to my head and body. I was also very concerned about our safety particulalry with our hands tied at our backs and the possiblity of us getting washed to the sea. The assault inflicted on me has caused me headaches, blurred vision and this is due to a rifle barrel pushed to the side of my head."
SAVUA: "We were than taken to the Naval Base. Upon arrival we boarded the ship and briefed by Naupoto, "If you try anything to escape or untie the rope, you will be dead". One of the navy personnel began verbal abuses. Abusive verbal language was hurled at me and others, "Savua/Mua drau vei cai". One of them asked me if I wanted to be Commander. They stated that this was Commander's (Bainimarama's) vessel...They even threatened to sexually assault Nata and stated that it was quite common in the Navy. They continued to butt and assault us. Wainiqolo was inflicting most of the punishment...The assault continued right until we arrived at Nukulau and when the ship was anchored off at Nukulau"
MUA: "We were driven to Walu Bay. They told us to come out of the truck one by one. I was walking behind Speight when he was thumped from the back. We were ushered to the forecastle of KIRO. We were seated between the gun turrett and the wave breaker. As soon as the ship left the pier the assault started. I was kicked in the face, rifle butted on the face and verbally abused. I lost one tooth in the process. This sequence went on for approximately 3 hours until we got here (Nukulau). My vision was blurred for 3 days due to the injuries I sustained. I was kicked around and on the esophagus. When this happened, I almost lost all consciousness and I thought I was going to die. We were told that we were going to an unknown destination...During the transfer to Nukulau, I slipped and was given two more kicks before I reached ashore. I cannot believe that people could be so brutal. The Military Police (MP) who were on Nukulau wept and asked us to forgive them for what had happened on the ship [Kiro]"
KONATACI: "We were taken to the Naval Base and as soon as we arrived, they shoved us onto the ship and forced us to the forecastle. We were given instructions to stay in one place and not to move or we would be shot. We were told to sit in front of the ship (forecastle), and as we sat down we were punched, kicked and verbally abused whilst our hands were tied. It seemed they were acting on instructions. As we left the harbour towards the open sea, I was very frightened naturally because I came from the highlands. My hand was kicked and my fingers were crushed with a boot, which was fractured. It was around 07000hrs, when we arrived near Nukulau. I could see others carrying injuries...A lot of verbal abuse was hurled at us. The two Lauan colleagues particularly copped a lot of abuse. I thought that we would be treated well and arrested as political prisoners and not be treated the way we were."
NATA: "We were taken to Naval Base and as soon as we got off, I was punched on the left, and I knew we were in for a rough ride. Once we got to the forecastle, we were warned in unequivocal terms that we were to follow orders. We were taken for a 2 and half hours ride and throughout the journey I was punched, kicked, butted and abused. Apart from the inhumane treatment, I was disappointed with the sexual taunts and the threat to be sexually assaulted. We were threatened and one particular chap WAINIQOLO (Leading Seaman Walesi) was very abusive and continued to physically assault us. Both Mua and mysef were badly hurt because of our links to Lau and Tui Nayau, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara so was George Speight, Ligari and Silatolu. The MP's treated us well and they even cried when they saw the state we were in...My colleagues would have mentioned other details of the assault".
SPEIGHT: "As we moved away from the pier, the assault began...They punched, kicked, rifle butted and one person continued to kick my head. We were buffetted by the big waves and the assault continued. I felt numb after the first half an hour. The most painful was the rope tied behind my back, which became very sore. The most excruciating pain was when I fell back with my full weight. This is when I felt fairly numb. We were subjected to this until the sun rose and this whole episode lasted about two to two and half hours. Before we were helped to our feet one of the officers took pictures of us on an instamatic camera. The 3 MPs (Military Police) who escorted us from QEB to Naval Base were all waiting at Nukulau. Two of them broke down and cried when they saw the state we were in. We were then freed from the ropes by the MPs, which were tied with our hands together. By this time I was so tired that I slept for about three days."
Fijileaks Editor: Major Epeli Nailatikau, Chief Medical Officer, RFMF, who had attended to the detainees, detailed the injuries, noting "Assault by navy personnel in navy boat - while on transfer to Nukulau" - Report on Injury or Illness Form
THE George Speight Group (GSG) were held at RFMF military cell after they had been arrested at different locations. At 3.30am on the morning of 29 July 2000 Lt Col Pita Driti, commanding officer, Logistic Support Unit (LSU) was given the task to transport the detainees from QEB to RFNS Stanley Brown. He was ready for the job, he told the Board of Inquiry (BOI).
The time for the actual transfer was for Saturday 29 July at 0400hrs. On the eve of 28 July at 2300hrs the Commander of the Land Force Command gave a very quick briefing as follows: (a) gag the detainees hands behind their backs, and (b) blindfold the detainees, but this was changed when Driti requested for confirmation.
By this time Driti had selected 10 military personnel from his unit for the operation. There was one Hino truck and two light vehicles for transportation. When Driti entered the cell block, he briefed the detainees and reassured them (also confirmed by the detainees to the BOI) about their safety and lives.
He also told them that they would be separated and their hands would be tied behind their backs. He then called out the list and the detainees followed the instructions. Warrant Officer Class One Ponipate Bainivalu tied their hands at the back one by one with pieces of ropes.
Major Ben Lomaloma was also present and he advised Driti to ensure that blood flow was not impeded around the detainees wrists. "We were psyched up and ready for any violent action or behaviour from the detainees. A chair was used to help them to board the vehicle. Once they were all inside the vehicle, I thanked them for their co-operation, but I did not inform them about their final destination. The time was approximately 0345hrs. At 0350hrs I boarded one of the light vehicles, which was the lead vehicle in the convoy and I had two escorts. WO1 Bainivalu was in-charge of the escorts and detainees in the main vehicle. Another light vehicle was the rear vehicle in the convoy," Driti told the BOI.
The initial plan was to go through Mead Rd, Princess Rd, Reservoir Rd, Queens Rd and into the Naval Base but Driti changed this as an element of surprise and used the Kings Rd, Edinburgh Drive to the Naval Base. When he arrived with the detainees at RFNS Stanley Brown base, he did not know who was in-charge. The whole base was dark and it was difficult to distinguish people.
"It took sometime before I could see LCDR NAUPOTO. I don't think he recognised me in the dark. During the briefing given by Comd LFC he had informed me to brief the naval counterparts to release the ropes tied behind the detainees backs once the ship left the pier. I did not inform him anything about the use of force but I was hopeful that he would have seen the manner in which we handled the detainees and it was firm but fair. When I briefed him about their hands tied behind their backs, he replied that he will decide since the detainees were under his responsibility" Driti told the BOI.
Bukarau, echoing other colleagues, told the BOI: "Lt Col Driti briefed us in Fijian saying, "So veikemudou ena vakarau kacivi na yacana mo dou vodo ena lori. Dou na kau ena vanua sega ni yawa mai Suva. Sega ni dua ena vakaleqai nona bula. O ni na yaco bula talega ena vanua ni na kau tiko kina", words to that effect."