Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Asia Pacific Report

FIJI: Sedition case against Fiji Times adjourned until February

Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley (left) and publisher Hank Arts. Image: Asia Pacific Report/FT file photo

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Item: 10044

By Aqela Susu
SUVA (The Fiji Times/Pacific Media Watch):
The sedition trial of the three senior staff of The Fiji Times Ltd, the company and a letter writer has been adjourned until next year.

This was after defence lawyer Pravesh Sharma withdrew as counsel for The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, the company's general manager and publisher, Hank Arts and the company yesterday.

Arts, Wesley and the company are charged with Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula and a letter writer, Josaia Waqabaca, with one count each of sedition.

They were alleged to have to have published or caused to publish a letter in the Nai Lalakai, the Fiji language newspaper published by the Fiji Times group,  in April last year that was alleged as likely to be seditious.

In his submissions before Justice Thushara Rajasinghe at the High Court in Suva yesterday, Sharma said his three clients believed things were rushed and they did not have the chance to talk to other senior counsel in New Zealand.

Sharma also asked the court for an adjournment to next February to give the three accused time to seek legal representation from another counsel.

He said this should also be done in the interest of justice for all accused persons.

The other defence lawyers, Devanesh Sharma and Aman Ravindra Singh, did not object to the application.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Lee Burney said the prosecution had always stood for fairness for both the defence and the state.

Justice Rajasinghe adjourned the case to February 9.

A trial date is likely to be set for either May or June 2018.

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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