In 2011 Lt Colonel Ratu Tevita Mara and Brigadier general Pita Driti were arrested, along with fellow officer Brig Mohammed Aziz. Aziz was locked up for three days and released.
Both Lt Col Tevita Mara and Brigadier Driti appeared in court charged under the Crime Decree with “uttering seditious comments”.
The cartoon depicts the ridiculous scene when Lt Col Ratu Tevita Mara’s charge was read out in court. The packed courtroom erupted in laughter. Even the judge struggled to contain herself. The defence lawyer’s comments brought more laughter. A nosy tourist even asked if it was all some kind of a joke. It wasn't a joke, it was a real charge.
The seditious comment was based on an allegation made by an opportunistic officer, Major Manasa Tagicakibau. Tagicakibau alleged that, while in Korea, Lt Col Ratu Tevita Mara had said to him that “this government is fuck all”. Manasa Tagicakibau informed the dictator and was subsequently promoted to Lt Colonel. Source’s said that Tagicakibau was coached by Bainimarama to implicate Lt Col Mara, and he was promoted as his reward.
Sources said that Khaiyum had issued instructions to move the Mara and Driti case to the high court where a longer prison term could be handed down to both men. In the meantime, according to the source, accommodation was being prepared to hold both men in Naboro prison, until their court dates. The sources also said that once Mara and Driti were locked up then they could remain there indefinitely, and their court date postponed.
Now we await the closing submissions in Brigadier general Pita Driti’s trial.