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Fiji Times Lawyer Withdraws Letter Of A Plea Of Not Guilty

Fiji Times Lawyer Withdraws Letter Of A Plea Of Not Guilty
November 09
11:31 2017

Counsel for Fiji Times Limited Faizal Haniff made an application in the Suva High Court yesterday to withdraw the company’s letter of a plea of not guilty.

Mr Haniff appeared before Judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe as representative and counsel for the newspaper company, its publisher and editor-in-chief.

Publisher Hank Arts was also in attendance alongside Editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, Nai Lalakai Editor Anare Ravula and Nai Lalakai article writer Josaia Waqabaca.

Before withdrawal of the letter, Mr Haniff argued in Court that Section 213 Subsection 4 of the 2009 Criminal Procedure Act stated that in the case of a corporation, the corporation may by its representative enter a plea in writing, and if the corporation does not appear by representative; or though it appears and fails to enter any plea, than the court shall cause a plea of not guilty to be entered.

Mr Haniff submitted that the purpose of the subsection was to provide a means to show the Court that the representative appearing in Court had been properly authorised to do so.

He said there was no need for a person or a Director to appear in the accused box to enter a plea on the company’s behalf.

Mr Haniff further clarified in Court that Fiji Times had denied the charge and he was the representative who was representing the company on their not guilty plea.

Accordingly, Justice Rajasinghe accepted Mr Haniff’s submissions saying he was satisfied that Mr Haniff could represent Fiji Times as representative and lawyer.

Meanwhile, the accused men were due to take their pleas in Court yesterday however defence counsel informed Justice Rajasinghe that there were amendments in the information presented by the State counsel in regards to Waqabaca.

State lawyer Mosese Korovou was told by Justice Rajasinghe that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) could not amend information as per their wish and the Court had addressed the issue on numerous occasions however they continued to do so.

Justice Rajasinghe told Mr Korovou that their discretion of charging people did not go beyond that.

Mr Korovou made a formal application for amendment to the iTaukei translation to be made on information regarding Waqabaca.

Fiji Times lawyer Mr Haniff also objected to the amendment of count five relating to the newspaper company by citing Section 52 of the 2009 Crimes Decree.

The section stated that if a physical element of an offence is committed by an employee, agent or officer of a body corporate acting within the actual or apparent scope of his or her employment, or within his or her actual or apparent authority, the physical element must also be attributed to the body corporate.

Mr Haniff submitted that it was incumbent that the particulars of the employee, agent or officer of the body corporate be included in the particulars of the offence.

He said the details was lacking in the particulars presented by the State.

The case has been adjourned to November 27.

Charges

It is alleged that Waqabaca between April 20 and April 27, 2016 at Suva, wrote and submitted an article for publication in the Nai Lalakai newspaper and in the article made a statement with a seditious intention to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji.

It is alleged that Ravula on April 27, 2016 in his capacity as the editor of the Nai Lalakai newspaper did aid and abet Hank Arts to publish an article which contained a statement which was a seditious publication.

It is alleged that Wesley on April 27, 2016 in his capacity as the editor-in-chief of the Nai Lalakai newspaper did aid and abet Hank Arts to publish an article which contained a statement which was a seditious publication.

It is alleged that Arts on April 27, 2016 in his capacity as the publisher of the Nai Lalakai newspaper published an article which contained a statement which was a seditious publication.

It is alleged that Fiji Times Limited on April 27, 2016 printed the Nai Lalakai newspaper which contained an article which contained a statement which was a seditious publication.

Arts, Wesley, and Fiji Times Limited are represented by Faizal Haniff, Ravula is represented by Devanesh Sharma and Waqabaca is represented by Aman Ravindra-Singh.

Edited by Karalaini  Waqanidrola

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