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Assessors return with not guilty opinion on all charges in Fiji Times sedition trial

Assessors return with not guilty opinion on all charges in Fiji Times sedition trial

By Vijay Narayan and Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 19/05/2018
Happy with the assessors opinion; contributor Josaia Waqabaca, Fiji Times Limited Publisher Hank Arts, Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley and Nai Lalakai Editor Anare Ravula with their defence lawyers

All three assessors have returned with a not guilty opinion on all charges against Fiji Times Limited, Publisher Hank Arts, contributor Josaia Waqabaca, Editor‑in‑Chief Fred Wesley and Nai Lalakai Editor Anare Ravula in the Fiji Times sedition trial.

High Court Judge, Justice Thushara Rajasinghe will deliver his judgement at 11.30am next Tuesday.

While summing up the case yesterday, Justice Thushara Rajasinghe told the assessors to read the Nai Lalakai article from the minds of reasonable and fair minded iTaukei readers.

He told the assessors to take into consideration under what circumstances the article was published and to consider the reaction of the readers.

Justice Rajasinghe told the three that he does not find the opinion of Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs, Naipote Katonitabua and Professor Paul Geraghty will be much help to the assessors as Geraghty has said that he did not have much interaction with the iTaukei community for the last 10 to 15 years as he was mainly teaching while Katonitabua had said that he used to talk to the iTaukei community at times.

He told the assessors to consider the truthfulness of the answers given in the caution interview.

Justice Rajasinghe says there was no investigation done to establish whether contributor, Josaia Waqabaca had given the petition to the Attorney General.

He also asked the assessors to consider the effect of the article on the intended readers and to consider all the circumstances after the publication of the article.

Justice Rajasinghe told the assessors to take as much time as they want because this was a very lengthy trial and also had lengthy closing submissions from both parties.

Fiji Times Limited, Publisher Hank Arts and contributor Josaia Waqabaca have pleaded not guilty to sedition while Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley and Nai Lalakai Editor Anare Ravula have pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting sedition.

It is alleged that Fiji Times printed the Nai Lalakai newspaper which contained an article which had content with a seditious intention to promote feelings of ill will and hostility between classes of the population.

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