Police in Fiji detained 14 members of a masonic lodge after villagers complained that they were practising ‘sorcery’ with wands, compasses and a skull.
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 still continuing.
Emergency regulations imposed by Fiji’s military regime allow police to detain people for up to 48 hours without charge.
As police investigations continue in relation to the 14 Freemasons under investigation for alleged sorcery in Nadi, Fijivillage has been told by one of the Freemasons that there is nothing sinister when they hold their meetings.
He said a number of respected and prominent people have been members of Freemasonry Fiji and it has been in existence in Fiji since 1871 when a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Polynesia was opened in Levuka.
Fijivillage has established that at various times over the last 130 years, there were five Masonic Lodges in Fiji.