Fiji military torture revealed in murder trial

Graphic accounts of how Fijian soldiers - including two Fiji sevens players - beat a man to death and sexually tortured others are coming out at a murder trial in the western city of Lautoka.

Nineteen-year-old Sakiusa Rabaka was beaten to death by the army just a month after military commander Voreqe Bainimarama staged his December 2006 coup.

His mother, Alanieta Rabaka, mounted an emotional and drawn out regional media campaign to get justice. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Australian Prime Minister John Howard took up the case.

Last year eight soldiers and a police officer were arrested. The military had attempted to move the soldiers overseas on United Nations peacekeeping duties but they were taken off a plane just before departure.

In the High Court in Lautoka, Justice Daniel Goundar and a panel of assessors have heard that Mr Rabaka, and other men, were seized by soldiers on January 24, 2007, and taken to the military camp at Black Rock.

He was returned home seriously injured next day and later admitted to hospital. He died on February 22.

The Fiji Times reported today that one witness, Josua Saunaqali, told of being subjected to military torture.

He was ordered to strip to his underwear and perform oral sex.

The military accused them of buying marijuana.

Mr Saunaqali said they were told to strip to their underwear and made to run to three points at which three of the accused were waiting to whip them.

When they failed to keep up with the pace, they were beaten.

They were made to duck-walk carrying a piece of timber. They were also made to crawl on their stomachs without using their arms.

They were beaten and kicked though out.

He said Mr Rabaka was not able to stand the torture and was groaning in pain.

Mr Saunaqali said they pleaded for the torturing of Mr Rabaka to stop because he was just a young boy but it continued.

Mr Saunaqali said he failed to complete a drill and a soldier kicked his chin.

He said a soldier ordered him and another friend to perform oral sex on an unnamed man.

He said he recognised Fiji rugby player Napolioni Naulia as part of the squad.

Those on trial are police officer Patrick Nayacalagilagi and Talone Lua, Ulaiasi Radike, Etonia Nadura, Ratuinaisa Toutou, Joeli Lesavua, Jona Nareki, Ilaisa Kurimavua and Naulia.

Nareki played for the Fiji Sevens in the 2000 Dubai Sevens and Naulia for the team at the South Pacific Games two years ago.

The trial is continuing today.

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