Friday, June 10, 2011

Fiji attacks Australia over fugitive

[ABC Radio Australia, 10 June 2011] - Fiji has accused Australia of attempting to disrupt its move towards democtratic elections by granting a visa to a former military commander.

Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Mara, who faces charges in Fiji, fled to Tonga in May, sparking a diplomatic feud.

Ratu Tevita arrived in Sydney on Thursday and will address a pro-democracy forum in Canberra on Saturday.

Fiji's interim government has accused Australia of escalating tensions by granting a visa to the former army chief of staff, who it now considers a fugitive.

But Australia defended its decision to grant a visa.

The parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island affairs, Richards Marles, said Ratu Tevita fulfilled all requirements to obtain a tourist visa under a Tongan passport.

"There was no reason not to grant him a visa," Mr Marles said.

He has also denied any involvement by the Australian government in Ratu Tevita's escape to Tonga last month.

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