Fugitive ex-Fijian Lieutenant Colonel visits New Zealand

09:58, July 20, 2011      

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former official in Fiji's military government, who fled the country in May, arrived in New Zealand to new controversy late Tuesday after visiting Australia.

Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara arrived in Auckland after the New Zealand government temporarily exempted him from an entry ban on all members of Fiji's military.

Mara is expected to hold a series of public meetings to speak about the Fiji regime.

"I'm here to meet the pro-democracy groups here in New Zealand to discuss with them the way things are going and the movement and their plans in New Zealand," he told Television New Zealand (TVNZ).

Mara fled Fiji in May and arrived in Tonga in a Tongan navy vessel after he was accused of sedition.

He has been staying with the Tongan royal family, but the Fijian government has been unsuccessfully calling for his extradition from Tonga, Australia and New Zealand.

Mara, who has criticized the Fijian government through Youtube videos, told TVNZ his visit to Australia was "very successful."

"People did not really know what was happening in Fiji, that's my main aim is to really let them know what's happening on the ground in Fiji," he said.

However, anti-government groups in New Zealand called on the New Zealand Police to investigate allegations that Mara was involved in the torture of Fijian citizens.

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