Leweni expressed surprised at the posting, according to Fijilive. This blog report was quoted by AAP in a report on its newswire yesterday.
Leweni said the story was “absurd” and “insulting” and that he was unaware of the death of the villager.
“We had a similar report last week claiming a man died as a result of assaults by soldiers, but there was nothing of that sort,” he told Fijilive. “Immediately after that we contacted our base in the North but they had denied any of the reports.”
“I don’t know where the media got their information and let me remind those who are trying to insult the military that they would be dealt with if they continue to make false statements.”
He added such reports were trying to paint a bad picture of the military.Several sources had confirmed the death but have been fearful of reprisals.
Fiji TV reported in its main evening bulletin that police in the north were investigating the man’s death but retracted the story in its 10pm bulletin, saying it was based on unconfirmed information.
Troops resist police probe into Nadi death
Fiji TV also reported tonight that soldiers at the Namaka military barracks are refusing to allow police access to two soldiers wanted for questioning in connection with the assault and death of 19-year-old Sakiusa Rabaka.
Detectives have been refused entry to the barracks despite assurances from the military’s top brass that police will be allowed to independently investigate Rabaka’s death.Acting Commissioner of Police Romanu Tikotikoca told Fiji TV he was trying to get the military to cooperate and allow the police to question the remaining six suspects. The policeman accused of involvement has been interrogated.
Army spokesman Major Neumi Leweni had earlier said the six soldiers had already been interviewed by police.
Legend FM is reporting this morning that Tikotikoca says police have been given the green light to interrogate the suspects.
Bainimarama responds to claims of human rights abuses
Army commander and interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama today responded to growing concern about the human rights abuses perpetrated by the military.
In a statement released through the Ministry of Information today, Bainimarama promised to reduce the military’s role in civil investigations and to review the presence of soldiers on the streets.
He added the military would not condone the use of force.
Bainimarama said the military was “responsive to public views on abuse of human rights and privileges” and would try to ensure people could live their lives normally.
“There is no reason for us to get the tremendous work which we have done so far in rescuing this nation tainted with images of abuse and brutality,” he said in the statement.
“As such, I have decided that the military will have less and less role in attending to and/or conducting investigations which are really the domain of the police and other law enforcement agencies.
“All previous cases involving abuse of human rights will be thoroughly investigated on an independent basis by the police and the Human Rights Commission,” the statement said.