Lt Col Filipo Tarakinikini (left), Fiji Labor Party, Mahendra Chaudhry. [Source: The People Alliance]
A statement posted on the People’s Alliance Facebook page states that three RFMF and one police investigation conducted into the 2000 coup found no evidence of wrongdoing by Lt Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini.
The statement further states that therefore, the Fiji Labor Party allegations that he supported the 2000 coup and that he attended meetings with Apisai Tora and Police Commissioner Savua are false and totally unfounded, as revealed in the four investigations.
It says prior to the 2000 coup, Lt Col Tarakinikini, among a number of other senior RFMF military officers, had applied for a position in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York.
It adds that it was a competitive process, and Lt Col Tarakinikini was selected on merit.
However, due to interference from those behind a smear campaign against the Colonel, the UN withdrew the job offer.
The statement further states that when PM Qarase became aware that Tarakinikini had become the victim of a smear campaign, he requested the UN Secretary General restore the job offer from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
According to the statement, Tarakinikini only worked for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations for one year, and he resigned from the RFMF in 2002.
The Commander RFMF at the time refused to accept his resignation.
It says Tarakinikini sought relief from the High Court in Suva and won his case because no evidence could be provided to the Court to support the allegations against him.
Following this High Court judgment, Tarakinikini, now retired, worked for UNDP from 2003 until 2018.
It says that during these fifteen years, he was assigned by UNDP to Jerusalem, Kathmandu, and Islamabad; the Darfur region of Sudan; Yemen; and Libya and that these are some of the most high-risk and complex UN operations.
According to the statement, from 2018 until he took early retirement in December 2022, Tarakinikini worked for the UN Secretariat in New York as the UNDSS chief of section for the Middle East and North Africa region.
The notion that he stayed in one job for more than 20 years is uninformed.
It says that Former Army Commander and former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had made numerous public threats in the Fiji media against Tarakinikini, even including a media report that Tarakinikini would be arrested by Interpol and extradited to Fiji to face charges.
It says for more than two decades, Tarakinikini has worked quietly and successfully at the UN.
It further says that Tarakinikini returned home for the first time in over two decades in July 2022, while the Bainimarama government was still in office.
It says the only issue that is shown in the immigration database in Nadi is that he should contact FRCA to deal with his tax returns from 1997 to 2000. He is working collaboratively with FRCA to resolve this issue.
It states that to hold Tarakinikini responsible for the actions of George Speight and Shane Stevens is the height of absurdity.
The statement further says that both individuals were charged and convicted through due process of law.
The statement also states that Tarakinikini was subjected to due process and was totally cleared of any wrongdoing.
It says that the RFMF’s investigations cleared Tarakinikini of any wrongdoing.
It adds that Tarakinikini, on the other hand, was pursuing academic studies and was actually sitting his MBA accounting exam at USP on the day the 2000 coup took place.
It says Tarakinikini was not in command of any troops in 2000.
It also says that when requested by the acting commander, Colonel Alfred Tuatoko eventually played a significant role in the resolution of the 2000 coup as a military spokesman and military negotiator.