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Fiji charges three with attempted assassination of coup leader

[JURIST] The Fiji government Monday charged three people [press release] with plotting to assassinate current self-appointed Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama [BBC profile] in the wake of the 2006 military coup [JURIST report] which ousted former Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase [BBC profile] and installed Bainimarama last December. According to police Monday, sixteen men were arrested late Sunday and several, including some former military and government officers, have been charged with treason, inciting murder, and conspiracy to murder. The suspects are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, and police have said that more arrests may be made.

December's government overthrow was the fourth coup [BBC backgrounder] in the nation during the past 20 years. At least one of the men charged Monday, former Fijian intelligence director Colonel Metuisela Mua, has previously served a prison sentence for his role in the 2000 coup. The latest coup was carried out after Qarase refused to stop proposed legislation that would have given coastal land ownership to the indigenous population of Fiji [JURIST news archive], rather than use it as a region for tourism, and also would have given pardons to individuals who plotted the coup in 2000. Last month, a Fijian court began hearing a case [JURIST report] brought by Qarase against Bainimarama that asserts that the 2006 coup was illegal. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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