A New Zealand man spent a “wretched” night in a Fiji jail after police raided his Freemasons meeting when frightened residents suspected witchcraft, the New Zealand Herald reported.
The man, who did not wish to be identified, blamed “dopey village people” for the raid on the island of Denerau in which 14 members of the Freemasons Lodge of Lautoka were herded into police cars and jailed for the night.
Police also seized lodge paraphernalia, including wands, compasses and a skull.
The man told the Herald that Tuesday night’s meeting was “interrupted by a banging on the door and there were these village people and the police demanding to be let in.”
Nothing sinister was going on but “such is the nature of life in Fiji” they were taken to a nearby police station and hauled over the coals, he said.
The lodge secretary showed police a copy of the permit allowing the meeting, but was told the permit was not the problem.
He said the group had to spend the night locked up in conditions that were hot and uncomfortable because “there was nowhere to lie down.”
Police director of operations Waisea Tabakau told Legend FM News in Fiji that the group were being investigated for “allegedly practicing sorcery”, the Fiji Village Web site reported.
The New Zealand man said that when they were freed the following morning, they were told their release was on the orders of the prime minister’s office.
Freemasonry is a centuries-old, worldwide fraternity which traditionally practices secret rituals. Its members deny there is anything pernicious about the rituals. (AFP)