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Failed coup leader in Fiji named private secretary to King Tupou VI

One of Fiji's top soldiers implicated in a failed coup and later investigated by New Zealand's spy service over an assassination allegation has become one of the top officials in Tonga's royal palace - and been given an island.

Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara was land force commander in Fiji in 2010, effectively the second most powerful man to coup leader Frank Bainimarama.

But he and another officer, Brigadier General Pita Driti, were accused of planning a coup in late 2010. Both were arrested for mutiny and sedition.

Driti was this month convicted and jailed for five years but Mara got away.

During Driti's trial, evidence was heard that Mara had wanted Bainimarama dead by Christmas 2010.

In April 2011 Mara, while on bail, went fishing in Fiji waters near Kadavu and was secretly picked up by a Tongan Navy boat, which claimed it had rescued him in international waters.

Mara, who is the son of Fiji's founding prime minister and president, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, is from the Lau group in Fiji.

The Polynesian part of Fiji, Lau was long part of Tonga and its chiefs are part of the Tongan royal family.

The Fiji Sun reported today that Mara has become private secretary to Tonga's ruler, King Tupou VI.

The king's sister, Pilolevu Tuita, has given him an island and the Sun says he is developing it for eco-tourism.



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