Speakers: Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Fiji's interim Prime Minister; Peter Willams QC, New Zealand lawyer
COONEY: In 2008 Ballu Khan and his legal team were able to get a permanent stay of proceedings against him granted in relation to the alleged assassination plot, and after that he left Fiji for New Zealand. But repeatedly during the recent trial of the remaining eight men, Fiji High Court Judge Justice Paul Madigan made it clear he believed Mr Khan was the assassination plot ringleader, and that led Fiji�s Department of Prosecutions to tell local reporters they were looking at what could be done. So far there�s been no confirmation if a decision has been made. Speaking on New Zealand Indo Fijian radio station, Radio Tarana this week, Ballu Khan was a topic Commodore Bainimarama was avoiding.
BAINIMARAMA: (inaudible) information between his office will be (inaudible) The last thing we want is for anyone to start speculating which in turn will cause confusion.
COONEY: Ballu Khan�s legal representative, New Zealand QC Peter Williams told Geraldine Coutts his client had nothing to answer for.
WILLIAMS: How can you extradite anybody who�s been acquitted? So that�s just propaganda. Anyway how could they extradite? They haven�t got a legal government over there, and there�s no merit in their evidence anyway. Of course there are a lot of rumours about the veracity of this last trial over there as well, and the way that the assessors were selected and whether or not the person who selected the assessors was in fact a member of the military. But I understand that they�ve demanded a blanket to be placed over all that information.
COONEY: Over the past 12 months New Zealand�s Radio Tarana has often been the way Fiji�s military regime has tried to reach the large expatriate Fijian community there. And while this time Commodore Bainimarama was avoiding talking about Ballu Khan, he was more forthcoming about the Commonwealth. Last month he told local media in Fiji if the Commonwealth continues to meddle in his regime�s attempts to move Fiji forward, in particular repeatedly demanding a return to democracy, then Fiji would drop its membership. When asked about this, his reply made use of the nation building language, including a call for understanding from the international community, which Commodore Bainimarama often uses when he talks to international media and international events. In public relations talk, he was staying on message.
BAINIMARAMA: It is focused on achieving its goals as contained in the roadmap to democracy and sustainable socio-economic development. This is the path of reform and modernisation that we have now taken and which we will pursue until we achieve our stated intentions. We are more confident of what we want now and the organising strategies we are currently implementing are meant to help achieve our goals for our people now and in the future.
COONEY: But that didn�t mean his threat of dropping Commonwealth membership was left out.
BAINIMARAMA: My invitation for the international community to consider the issue from Fiji�s perspective in this case. That�s all we ask of them and to choose otherwise, then our choice will be whether to leave the Commonwealth or not. It�s obvious.