Dictator Frank Bainimarama’s violent paroxysm of revenge against innocent CRW soldier Selesitino Kalounivale following November 2000 mutiny at Delainabua barracks
Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz stopped police interview when soldier confessed to killing CRW soldiers on dictator’s orders
Kalounivale’s post-mortem report went missing from Police and DPP files
By VICTOR LAL
|Aziz (right) with Bainimarama and Aseri Rokoura|
He was referring to the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit soldiers who tried to kill him for betraying them after having ordered them to overthrow the Peoples Coalition Government of Mahendra Chaudhry. Bainimarama had cowardly escaped with his bodyguards by bolting through the cassava patch, and later took refuge at the naval base in Walu Bay, clearly shaken and frightened for his life.
Worst, he had arrived at the naval base emitting an odious wafting body smell – according to some of the naval officers who received him that day the dictator had defecated in his pants from sheer fright.
The dead soldiers who, according to the dictator met their Karmic fate were as follows: Jone Kamoe Davui, Iowane Wasaroma, Epineri Bainimoli and Selesitino Kalounivale.
But according to a “Briefing Paper – CRW Murder Investigation’ in my possession by a senior assistant police superintendent, the above CRW soldiers were beaten to death and murdered. He wrote: “On 2nd November during the Mutiny at the Fiji Military Force Headquarters in Nabua, the following CRW members were brought to the Army Camp from Central Police Station and Nabua Police Station by a group of soldiers.
They were taken into the cell by members of 3FIR, where they were beaten to death and murdered. Our investigation was conducted into the deaths of the above whilst the mutiny investigations continue. The investigation has revealed that this was a case of Murder as the deceased were not all involved in the mutiny. They were all brought in by a group of soldiers from outside the camp.”
The Case of Murdered Selesitino Kalounivale
Kalounivale was definitely one of the innocent CRW soldiers who had played no part in the mutiny that day. While awarding his widow $24,000 under the Workers Compensation Act against the Fiji Military Forces in April 2006, the then Resident Magistrate Ajmal Gulab Khan (later a regime lackey Chief Magistrate after the dictator’s coup) outlined the following undisputed basic facts. Kalounivale died on 3rd of November 2000 from injuries received to his body.
Kalounivale was a member of the Fiji Military Forces. He belonged to the elite CRW Group with the Military. On 2nd November 2000 he was at home attending to his sick child while his wife was at work. Meanwhile at the camp some CRW soldiers were involved in a mutiny where they had taken over the camp. The army set up special operations as if it was a battle situation. The camp was taken over by CRW at about 3.30pm and retaken by the military around 6pm that day.
Kalounivale had his knapsack bag and was in civilian clothing. He was later picked up by soldiers in Tamavua area. His knapsack was searched and it contained a camouflaged army trousers, detonator, cord, knife and a water container. He was taken to the Army commander Bainimarama at the Naval Base. After some half hour the soldiers were instructed by the Commander to take the deceased to the Central Police Station. Kalounivale was handed over to CPS.
After 4pm that day Kalounivale was seen taken out of CPS along Pratt Street in an army van by 4-5 soldiers. He was on floor of the van and the bystanders (witness 1 and 2) could hear swearing, hitting with rifle butts and kicking at the back of the tray. Around midnight on 2/11/000 he was taken to the mortuary at CWM Hospital.
Due to the curfew no one could go out that night. The next morning the applicant (Kalounivale’s widow) went and identified Kalounivale at the hospital. Post mortem was conducted on 8th November 2000. The cause of death was found to be “multiple blunt force injuries including head injuries with subdural haemorrhage”.
Kalounivale’s body had a number of recent injuries.
The Doctor’s report states: “He sustained numerous blunt impacts, particularly to the head but also to the chest and abdomen. All compartments of the head – front and back to the scalp, forehead, eyes, cheeks, mouth has received multiple blows. These have resulted in bleeding around the brain. The pattern of injuries indicate that this man has been severely assaulted.”
The Royal Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), according to magistrate Khan denied that the army personnel had taken Kalounivale from the CPS. They last handed over Kalounivale to the CPS around 4pm on 2/11/00. The issues before Khan was (1) Was Kalounivale in employment, (2) Did he suffer personal injury by accident (3) Did it arise out of and in the course of the employment?
According to Khan, it was disputed if Kalounivale had gone to work that day. There was evidence of a phone call after which he left home. He was picked up by soldiers on the street and taken to the Commander. The FMF also gave evidence that soldiers were called to camp that day in an emergency due to the mutiny in camp. Khan ruled: “I find that the deceased [Kalounivale] had gone to work that day when picked up by fellow officers. He was an employee of RFMF and was called to work on that day.”
Did Kalounivale suffer personal injury by accident? Khan, after citing legal precedents, ruled: “In this case deceased [Kalounivale] was picked up and taken to his commander. Later to police station. He was seen taken from CPS by military men in a army van. There is evidence of assault by rifle butts and kicks. The military has denied taking the deceased away from CPS. I find it as a fact that the military personnel had taken him out of CPS in the back tray of their van. He was assaulted and sworn at whilst being taken away. There is credible evidence tendered by the applicants on the issue which I accept as true. The injury and assault was an “unlooked for mishap” and “not expected or designed” by the deceased. It was an accidental injury suffered by the deceased.”
Did it arise out of employment and in the course of the employment? Again, Khan ruled: “He was picked up from the road as he was a CRW soldier whose group had taken part in the mutiny. He was picked on commander’s instructions and later taken to CPS. It is obvious that the whole incident and injury arose out of his employment as a soldier of CRW Unit. The employment had contributed to it. There was no evidence that the deceased was personally a mutineer and the court cannot assume as such.”
Khan continued: “There is evidence that the deceased [Kalounivale] was at home that day attending to his sick child. He had taken him to the health centre for treatment. It was after being called to work that he left home. The Respondent [RFMF] says he was walking in the direction away from the camp when picked up by the army officers. However, I am satisfied on balance of probability that the deceased left home for work after being called. The respondent witness has also confirmed all military personnel were asked to report to their base due to the upheaval at the camp on 2nd November 2000. It was his work which took him away from home.”
Was it the course of employment? Khan stated: “The deceased [Kalounivale] was a soldier who accompanied fellow military men and was taken to their commander at the naval base. After some 30 minutes upon the commander’s instructions the military men took him to Central Police Station where he was celled. The military has denied doing anything further. The applicant’s [Kalounivale’s widow’s] witnesses have given evidence that military men took the deceased after 4pm from the CPS in an army van. There were four to five officers in uniform. They noticed the deceased was put on back tray where he lay on floor. They also heard swearing and saw hitting and kicking of the person on tray of the van. The medical report confirms injury to the deceased by blunt objects and as a result of severe assault on him. On balance of probability I am satisfied that the officers had assaulted him [Kalounivale] after taking his release from CPS and the injuries suffered had caused his death a few hours after his assaults. He was pronounced dead around 1am that same night. The military denied having any knowledge of the injury but in closing submissions as I understand raised certain issues.”
Khan considered the issues and ruled upon them.
1. The deceased [Kalounivale] was part of CRW soldier who had taken part in the mutiny that day?
Khan: There was no direct evidence of the deceased being a mutineer except that he was a CRW soldier. Also the shooting was at camp between 3 to 6pm when he was not there.
2. It’s not part of soldier’s duty to assault fellow soldiers. So the act of assault was beyond the call of duty and therefore not within the course of employment. The soldiers may have acted beyond their scope of employment. But they have given no evidence of assault. If they had assaulted him [Kalounivale] as a mutineer or a betrayer to their command, there was no complaint and court cannot assume it to be so in absence of evidence by the military. In fact there is convincing evidence by the applicant [Kalounivale’s widow] that he was released from CPS and taken in an army van and being assaulted by army officers.
Khan: I am satisfied the injury suffered was incidental to his work although not in the currency of his engagement as a soldier but it was certainly incidental to his being taken to CPS and later released and assaulted by military whilst being in their custody till pronounced dead later that night. The assaulting soldiers may have exceeded in the scope of their duty by assaulting the deceased [Kalounivale] but they acted as soldiers of FMF and were responsible for their actions in the general scope of their duties.
3. Police force conducted the arrest so not course of Army employment?
Khan: There is evidence before the court and I am satisfied that there was no complaints laid against the deceased [Kalounivale] to the police. He was taken to CPS on Commander’s instruction by fellow soldier[s]. He was later released to the army and taken away by them. The military had custody of the accused [Kalounivale] during his assault and death. There has been no explanation tendered by the military before this court on the release of the deceased from station after 4pm on 2nd November till midnight that day when he died. The deceased was not in custody of the police force. He was at his work with fellow military officers who had taken his release from CPS. The deceased [Kalounivale] was a workman who suffered injury during his work hours and such injury caused his death. The whole incident was due and incidental to his work as a member of the FMF.”
The Solicitor-General’s Office, representing the RFMF and the dictator, had contested the compensation claim, relying on Immunity Proclamation 2001 (Presidential Proclamation, Proclamation No 2 of 2001, Immunity of Disciplined Forces), and that the claim was statute barred under the provisions of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Act, Cap 81, particularly section 52(1), which stipulates an action to be commenced within three months after the act complained of, and finally the claim was defective under the provisions of section 52(2) of the RFMF Act, Cap 81, as it did not expressly allege whether such act was done either maliciously or without reasonable and probable cause or through gross negligence.
The Court rejected all of their defences, and ruled on the widow’s statement of claim that her husband Kalounivale was murdered by the RFMF or alternatively died as a result of the unlawful beating he received from members of the RFMF.
It is worth noting that Ajmal Gulab Khan’s judgment is no longer available on the illegal Fiji government’s official judicial website www.judiciary.gov.fj or PACLII.
It is quite clear that Kalounivale had not gone to the naval base for a “picnic” nor had gone to “kill” the dictator. It was the dictator who had requested that the innocent Kalounivale be brought to him and later sent him to the Central Police Station from where he was taken to the army camp by his security guards and beaten to death.
But it is worth reminding the dictator that karmic debt is repaid in kind. Or as Exodus warns us: “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death.”
In the dictator’s case, the law is very clear - it holds that a commanding officer, being aware of a human rights violation, will be held criminally liable when he does not take action.
And we have his infamous interview with the Australian journalist Graham Davis in 2009:
Davis: Did you want them dead?
Dictator: 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.
Again, Kalounivale had never gone to kill the dictator nor had gone to be “kissed on the cheek” by him. Kalounivale had taken no part in the bloody mutiny on that day.
One of these days I will be revealing how Kalounivale was battered to death, and how Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz, then army legal officer, had stopped police interview when one of the soldiers confessed to KILLING Kalounivale and the other CRW soldiers on the dictator’s orders. I will be naming that murderous soldier whom the dictator has protected since 2000. I will be also disclosing the horrifying contents of the missing post-mortem report, and other details, to disprove the dictator’s claim that he carried out the coup to weed out corruption and to give the descendants of Indian coolies’ equality in post-coup Fiji.
The dictator carried out the coup to escape prosecution, for among the charges he was facing shortly before the 2006 coup was the murders of Kalounivale and the other CWR soldiers.