[JURIST] A Fiji High Court judge Tuesday declared a mistrial in the case against former Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka [Wikipedia profile], charged with inciting a military mutiny [JURIST report]. Although High Court Justice Gerard Winter did not disclose his reason for declaring a mistrial, local media speculated that the prosecution had failed to fully disclose evidence.
The military mutiny charges stem from an incident in November 2000, when rebel Counter Revolutionary Warfare [Wikipedia backgrounder] soldiers allegedly led or organized by Rabuka attempted to remove military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama [Wikipedia profile], leading to a gun battle that resulted in the deaths of eight servicemen. Bainimarama had taken control of Fiji [government website; BBC timeline; JURIST news archive] and declared an interim military government in late May 2000 in response to what he considered an ineffectual response by the country's president to an attempted coup [JURIST report]. The coup was led by Fijian nationalist George Speight [BBC profile] against the government of Fiji's first ethnic Indian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry [BBC profile], who had been elected head of the tiny Pacific island nation in 1999. Bainimarama handed control of the government to a new civilian president in July 2000 but continued to exercise influence afterwards, leading to the alleged effort to remove him. Rabuka initially came to power in 1987 after he led a successful military coup [BBC timeline] by walking into the Parliament building and seizing control. Rabuka served as prime minister from 1992 until 1999. The new trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 27. AP has more.