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Sedition Conviction Excludes SODELPA’s Bulitavu, Fiji United Freedom Party’s Karunaratne From Contesting 2018 Election

Sedition Conviction Excludes SODELPA’s Bulitavu, Fiji United Freedom Party’s Karunaratne From Contesting 2018 Election
From left: Fiji Labour Party parliamentary leader and lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh, Mosese Bulitavu, Jagath Kuranaratne and lawyer Barbara Malimali in Suva yesterday. Photo: Facebook
March 27
15:02 2018

SODELPA Member of Parlia­ment and 2018 provisional candidate Mosese Bulitavu and leader of Fiji United Free­dom Party Jagath Karunaratne were convicted by the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday af­ternoon.

The conviction excludes Bu­litavu from contesting the 2018 General Election race and the va­cation of his parliamentary seat accordingly.

It also excludes Karunaratne and leaves the future of his party in a dilemma.

Bulitavu and Karunaratne were charged with one count of sedition and convicted by Magistrate Deep­ika Prakash.

The judgment was summarised in open court and both parties were told that the written judgment would be provided at a lat­er date once minor corrections were made.

The duo were found to have spray painted words at different places between Nausori and Suva with the seditious intention of bringing hatred against the Government in 2011.

Bulitavu was represented by Suva law­yer Barbara Malimali while Karunaratne was represented by Lautoka lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh.

Defence counsels sought time to prepare mitigation for the two accused men.

Ms Malimali told Magistrate Prakash that she intends to call character witnesses to mitigate and give evidence for the defence.

Counsels were advised to tender affidavits for the same before the next court date, how­ever oral submissions could be made on the day.

They were further advised to provide writ­ten submissions.

Magistrate Prakash extended bail for Bu­litavu and Karunaratne and adjourned the case to April 19, 2018 for sentencing.

In a message posted on social media yester­day after his conviction, Bulitavu thanked his fellow Fijians for their support.

“I have been convicted for sedition await­ing sentence.

“It means I cannot stand for the 2018 elec­tions and also will be vacating my Member of Parliament seat,” Bulitavu said.

He acknowledged SODELPA executives, officials and members for their support in­cluding fellow members of parliament.

“I thank the Vanua of Caumatalevu, Macu­ata, for the support and I can confirm that SODELPA will get a better candidate to rep­resent you in the upcoming elections,” Bu­litavu said.

Who replaces Bulitavu?

It is understood that Tui Namuka, Ratu Tevita Navurelevu Niumataiwalu is next in line as the next Opposition Member of Par­liament once Bulitavu vacates his seat.

However, this is subject to the Electoral Commission’s approval and the next parlia­ment sitting.

Edited by Percy Kean

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