Secret US embassy cables leaked to WikiLeaks, and provided exclusively to Fairfax, allege beatings and intimidation of the military regime's suspected opponents took place with the full knowledge of senior Fijian military commanders and included the direct participation of Commodore Bainimarama, now Fiji's interim prime minister.
One embassy report records witness testimony that Commodore Bainimarama joined in an assault on a senior public servant detained at the Fijian military's headquarters in December 2006, when the commodore ''kicked [the man's] legs out from under him and beat him around the head, telling him, 'Don't f--- with the military'.''
Although Commodore Bainimarama publicly deplored violence by Fijian soldiers following his coup and said he would ensure any excesses ceased, the US embassy reported to Washington he told European Union diplomats that if anyone insulted the Fijian military ''of course we must have them taken to the barracks and have them beaten up''.
The leaked US cables record that both before and after Commodore Bainimarama overthrew prime minister Laisenia Qarase's democratically elected government, American diplomats found the Fijian military chief ''erratic'', ''irrational'' and ''wildly excessive'' in his reactions to criticism.
In one cable sent to Washington shortly before the December 2006 coup, US ambassador Larry Dinger observed that ''a psychiatrist would have a field day with Bainimarama''.
In other reports, the commodore's propensity for ''sabre-rattling'' and threats of violence, including against foreign diplomats, caused the US embassy in Suva to ''wonder more than ever about the rationality of [Bainimarama's] judgment''.
The leaked US diplomatic cables contain numerous reports of human rights abuses following the military takeover, including the arbitrary detention of human rights activists, senior police and civil servants, trade unionists, lawyers and journalists.
Human rights abuses documented in the cables include beatings, torture and death threats ''with a pistol to the head''.
One senior police officer detained by the military at Suva's Queen Victoria Barracks described how he saw ''several ambulances depart the camp transporting people beaten by military interrogators''.
Other cases reported by the US embassy included deaths in military custody with one victim's body - ''marked by visible bruises'' - dumped by soldiers at a police station. In another case a group of villagers, including a senior police officer, was ''subjected ... to beatings over a three-hour period''.
The US embassy reports also document cases of rape and sexual assault by Fijian military personnel, including at least one instance of a group of detainees forced to engage in group sexual acts. In another case a prominent female human rights activist was ''felt up'' by a senior military officer and was ''warned she would receive worse treatment unless she stopped her activities''.
In discussing the interim prime minister's motivations, US diplomats highlighted underlying insecurity in Commodore Bainimarama's personality.
The US embassy reports quote a former senior Fijian military officer and close colleague of Commodore Bainimarama, together with then chief of the Fiji Police former Australian Federal Police officer Andrew Hughes, as suggesting Commodore Bainimarama suffered from post-traumatic stress arising from the Fijian army mutiny of November 2000.
Although the US embassy in Suva has reported that Commodore Bainimarama has been ''feeling the strain of governing a country that doesn't salute like an army,'' the leaked cables leave little doubt about the Fijian military's determination to only relinquish power on its terms and to never allow its democratic opponents to regain power.
New elections, originally promised by Commodore Bainimarama within two years of the December 2006 coup, are now nominally scheduled for September 2014.