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A Great Loss For Bau, Fiji

A Great Loss For Bau, Fiji
July 02
13:06 2015

Fiji has lost a great leader and a great rugby player.

This was the reaction of former national Fijian rugby captain/coach Ratu Ilaitia Tuisese on the death of Ratu Jope Naucabalavu Seniloli Senior.

He said he rubbed shoulders with Ratu Jope in 1967 when he played for the Rewa team.

“By then he (Ratu Jope) was already playing for Fiji,” he said.

Ratu Ilaitia said, Ratu Jope first played for Fiji during the Europe tour in 1964. He said it was during this tour that the rugby countries became aware of Fijian running rugby.

He played with Ratu Jope in 1969 during the tour to Australia.

“We went again to New Zealand in 1970 and he retired after that.”

On the rugby field, Ratu Jope was a fearless man. He led from the front and cared for the junior players.

Ratu Ilaitia said he had learned a lot from Ratu Jope’s experience.

In their rugby days, there were no yellow or red cards. “When things get heated up, the referee will let the whole team sit and will give his advice and warning.”

He said if the cards were used then, half of the team would be out before the game ended. “That shows the physicality of the rugby played back then.”

He said something special for Ratu Jope was that he was a real test match player. “Fiji was always at his heart.”

Rewa chief, Turaga na Vunivalu, Ro Epeli Mataitini described Ratu Jope as a humble person.

As a chief, he was always ready to hear and help the people.

“He was a hard worker,” he said.

Ro Epeli said Ratu Jope was always full of humour.

“He cared for all the people.”

Adi Finau Tabakaucoro said that the loss of Ratu Jope was a big blow to Bau.

He organised things for the chiefly island and was a chief for the people.

Ratu Jope was known for his good leadership.

 

Vice-President

Ratu Jope Naucabalavu Seniloli (born 1939) at the time of his death he held the title of Taukei Naua.

He also served as Fiji’s Vice-President from March 25, 2001 to November 29, 2004.

 

Guilty verdict

On August 6, 2004, Ratu Jope was found guilty of unlawfully proclaiming himself President during the 2000 coup, and of illegally swearing in cabinet ministers, including George Speight, the chief instigator of the coup, as Prime Minister.

His lawyer, Mehboob Raza, maintained that he had done so only “under duress,” at gunpoint, a defence rejected by then High Court judge Justice Nazhat Shameem, who agreed with the state prosecutor that Ratu Jope had known of the coup plot in advance and had deliberately aided and abetted it. Justice Shameem said she had originally intended to sentence Ratu Jope Seniloli to six years’ imprisonment, but had opted for a four-year sentence instead, taking account his many years of service to Fiji, including thirty-three years as a schoolteacher.

Along with Ratu Jope, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, and three other defendants, were sentenced to terms of between one and six years for the same offence.

 

Release

On November 29, 2004, the then Attorney-General, Qoriniasi Bale, announced that he had decided to release Ratu Jope from prison on medical grounds, a decision which angered the Labour Party.

 

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj

 

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