Speight 'not the real coup leader'
    From an AFP correspondent in Suva
    THE AUSTRALIAN            19aug00

FIJI'S George Speight was not the real leader of
the May 19 coup that bought down the Chaudhry
government, a cabinet minister held hostage for
56 days said yesterday.

His revelation came as Speight and his top 12
henchmen made another brief appearance before
a Suva magistrate.

Poseci Bune, deposed agriculture minister, in an
interview with the Fiji Sun, said that minutes after
being taken hostage Mr Speight told them he was
not the leader of the coup. He was waiting for the
leader to come.

"So we had to wait about 40 minutes as he was
answering calls and at the same time making
calls, and telling us that we will be surprised that
he is not the leader as the real leader will arrive
for us to see him," he told the newspaper.

"But then he got another call. Then he turned to us
and said: 'I think he is going to be late, well, I
have to take it on from here.' "

Mr Bune said he realised that the leader's failure to
turn up meant "there was a big hiccup or something had
gone wrong in the operation".

"I could only guess that the turning up of that
mysterious man may have been dependent on whether the
army was behind it or not. Maybe when the army was not
in a position to support the coup this man backed out
immediately and left those guys in limbo."

Asked if Mr Speight had mentioned that there were people
backing them up, Mr Bune said:

"Yes, definitely. He said there were people very high up,
well known to us, and he said: 'You will be surprised.' "

It was a coup that had gone wrong, Mr Bune said.

Meanwhile, Speight and his 12 top henchmen appeared
briefly in the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday on a
series of minor unlawful assembly and arms charges.

Mr Temo remanded Speight and the men until August 25,
when they are also due to reappear for procedural issues
related to the charges of treason, misprision of treason
and waging war on the people of Fiji.

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