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Ra Chiefs, Group Plead Not Guilty

Ra Chiefs, Group Plead Not Guilty
SODELPA 2014 General Elections Candidate Josefa Natau appeared at the Lautoka High Court yesterday. Inset: SODELPA General Elections 2014 candidate Sulueti Waqalala at the Lautoka High Court yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia
September 02
14:17 2015

15 people including two chiefs from the province of Ra pleaded not guilty to sedition charges at the Lautoka High Court yesterday.

The two chiefs, Tui Nalawa Ratu Epeli Niudamu and Ratu Natauia Sereima Adidave Rokoadi appeared before Justice Aruna Alugthe.

Others charged included Sailasa Malani, Isikeli Kabakoro, Laisiasa Mocevakaca, Emosi Toga, Waisake Racaca, Samuela Ligabalavu, Mikaele Gonerara, Josefa Natau, Sulueti Waqalala, Apolosi Qaliwawa and Ilisapeci Natau.

Ulaiyasi Tuivono, who is remanded in Police custody in relation to a Nadroga case, did not appear in court.

The group is charged with one count of sedition contrary to section 67 (1) (a) of the Crimes Degree 2009 and one count of inciting communal antagonism contrary to section 65 (2) (a) of the Crimes Decree 2009.

Nanise Nagusuca and Waisea Duailima are charged with four counts of similar charges.

The court heard that the group on October 28, 2014 at Rakiraki, did an act with a seditious intention, namely signed a document headed “Uluda Declaration” purporting to be a unilateral declaration of independence by the entity “Ra Sovereign Christian State” with the intention of bringing hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against Government of Fiji as by law established.

Also it was heard on October 28, 2014 the group signed a petition headed “Uluda Declaration” to the International Court of Justice, intending these documents to be read and contained statements likely to promote feelings of enmity or ill-will between difference communities, religious group or classes of the community.

The court also heard that Nagusuca and Duailima on November 3, 2014 took an oath to serve as ministers in the Ra Sovereign Christian Government.

All the accused pleaded not guilty to the said charges.

Ratu Epeli Niudamu is represented by lawyer Kevueli Tunidau and the others represented by lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh; while ODPP lawyer Semi Babitu represented the State.

Mr Niudamu and Mr Singh made an application to the court to have an early trial date as possible.

They also asked the court to challenge the Police interview of their clients.

Mr Singh told the court that there should be an early trial date since this was the first case.

Justice Alugthe said there were a number of cases pending and he was not able to accommodate an early trial.

The matter has been adjourned to August 22.

Meanwhile, Saimoni Nacolawa and Timoci Nagata and Peni Vakatawa also appeared before Justice Alugthe yesterday.

The three were represented by Mark Anthony of Aman Ravindra Singh Lawyers while ODPP lawyer Mr Babitu represented the State.

Mr Anthony made an application for the state to give full disclosures so that they can take plea.

The court asked ODPP to submit the disclosures within 21 days.

Nacolawa is still granted bail while Nagata and Vakatawa have been remanded in police custody.

Their case will be called on August 15.


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