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FIJI WANTS ARMY OFFICER BACK, BUT CAN'T EXTRADITE HIM: MAGAZINE
[April 28, 2006]

FIJI WANTS ARMY OFFICER BACK, BUT CAN'T EXTRADITE HIM: MAGAZINE


(New Zealand Press Association Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Wellington, April 28 NZPA - Attempts by Fiji's military to court martial former acting land force commander Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka appear to have suffered another blow.

Deputy Solicitor General Savenaca Banuve told Pacific Magazine today that Fiji does not have an extradition treaty with New Zealand to bring back Col Baledrokadroka, who is now living in New Zealand.

Col Baledrokadroka is wanted by the military for allegedly trying to overthrow the military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama earlier this year.

Col Baledrokadroka and two junior officers are alleged to have asked Commodore Bainimarama to step down, and to have expressed concern the commander had breached Government policies and decisions, according to the Fiji Times newspaper.

But Mr Banuve told the magazine the Fiji government had run into ``difficulties'' in implementing the new treaty.

He said any attempts to extradite a person from New Zealand will be difficult as they are still using the old system of obtaining access to people through diplomatic arrangements.

Military sources said New Zealand was not obliged to extradite Col Baledrokadroka because he had not committed a crime internationally that warranted extradition.

The perceived problem for which he was being sought was an internal matter between him and the military.

The lack of an extradition treaty would mean the military will have to work through Fiji's Ministry of Home Affairs to facilitate the extradition of Col Baleidrokadroka with its New Zealand counterparts.

The charges against Col Baleidrokadroka are now with his commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Etueni Caucau -- but any court martial cannot be convened if the accused person is not in the country.

The two other senior military officers said to have accompanied Col Baledrokadroka, Lieutenant Colonels Saimoni Vatu and Solomoni Raravula, have rejected a request to voluntarily resign their commission from the military, saying their actions were legal.



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