Fiji detains freemasons over 'magic rituals'
Police in Fiji detained 14 members of a masonic lodge after villagers complained that they were practising 'sorcery' with wands, compasses and a skull.
16 Jul 2009
By Our Foreign Staff
Eight Australians and a New Zealander were among those jailed for 24 hours after their Tuesday night meeting was raided by police.
A member of the lodge blamed "dopey village people" for the raid on the island of Denerau.
The Australian foreign ministry said the group was detained for convening a Masonic meeting without the right permit.
The New Zealand Herald quoted an unnamed police spokesman who said officers acted on reports from villagers of "strange goings-on" at the lodge.
The lodge secretary showed police a permit for the meeting but was told it was not relevant and the group was locked up.
The Canberra Times reported that Fiji's prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, ordered their release but investigations were continuing.
Emergency regulations imposed by Fiji's military regime allow police to detain people for up to 48 hours without charge.