Neena Bhandari in Sydney
George Speight, who overthrew the government of ethnic Indian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry in Fiji in a coup, was on Monday handed a death sentence by the high court after he pleaded guilty to treason.
However, President Josefo Iloilo later signed a decree reducing the death sentence to life imprisonment, which entails a minimum of ten years in prison.
According to sources in Fiji, the high court decision seemed to be part of a 'deal'.
Only a week ago, the cabinet led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had introduced a bill, yet to be passed by parliament, reducing the maximum punishment for treason from death penalty to life imprisonment.
Earlier, Qarase had to take the support of Speight's party to form the government, the sources pointed out.
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