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Fiji Soldier Charged in APTN Case

May 31, 2002

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SUVA, Fiji (AP) _ A renegade soldier was charged Thursday with attempted murder in the shooting of an Associated Press Television News cameraman following a coup in Fiji.

Filimoni Tikotani, who appeared in Suva Magistrates Court, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He was also charged with attempted murder of a Fiji army officer. No trial date was set.

APTN senior producer and cameraman Jerry Harmer was shot through the right wrist on May 27, 2000, while covering the coup. Two soldiers also were wounded in the fight outside Fiji’s parliament where armed men _ many of them renegade troops _ were holding hostage Fiji’s government.

Tikotani was among the coup plotters who finally released their hostages after a 56-day standoff. Coup leader George Speight was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason earlier this year. Other coup plotters received lesser sentences.

Speight, a failed businessman, said he launched the coup to win back political power for indigenous Fijians. The government toppled in the coup was Fiji’s first to be led by a member of the country’s 44 percent ethnic Indian minority.

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