INDEPENDENT NEWS

SUVA: Fiji Court Convicts Political Bomber

Published: Fri 19 Nov 1999 01:54 PM
SUVA: Fiji Court Convicts Political Bomber
Article provided by the Journalism Programmme, University of the South Pacific. Source - Pasifik Nius.
Origin - Fiji Times - COURT CONVICTS BOMBER
SUVA: A father of three charged with four counts of bombings was convicted in the Fiji High Court by Chief Magistrate Salesi Temo yesterday.
Ministry of Labour technical officer Tui Vunibola, who claims he was used by other people, had pleaded guilty to:
* Two counts of being in possession of explosives without a permit;
* One count of destroying property belonging to the Fiji Electricity Authority;
* One count of putting explosives on public transport.
The court was told by Vunibola's lawyer, the duty counsel for the Legal Aid Commission, Marie Chan, that the 31-year-old had only been in Suva for five months to look for work.
The former school teacher, whose family lives in Labasa, had also admitted the summary of facts presented by prosecutor Inspector Bhawani Prasad.
Ms Chan asked for a non-custodial sentence for Vunibola, who wanted to do community service to be supervised by his church pastor at Naseakula, Labasa.
"He is a first offender and was very cooperative with police during the course of investigations. He also has a very young family," Ms Chan said in mitigation on Vunibola's behalf.
"He is very sorry for all he had done. My client is most villing to pay for the damage."
Mr Temo said the offences committed by Vunibola were very serious.
He convicted Vunibola on all charges but adjourned sentencing to next week to allow him to consider Vunibola's pleas for a non-custodial sentence.
Mr Temo said he had to consider the request carefully before sentencing Vunibola.
* Other newspaper reports highlighted the alleged political motivations of the bombings by Vunibola in August, after the election of a new government headed by an Indo-Fijian prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.
The Daily Post reported Vunibola as having named other alleged conspirators to the police.
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Selwyn Manning - Scoop Auckland
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