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Oral Submissions By Defence For ‘A No Case To Answer’ Will Be Heard Today

Oral Submissions By Defence For ‘A No Case To Answer’ Will Be Heard Today
From left: Letter writer Josaia Waqabaca and Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula outside the High Court in Suva on May 3, 2018. Photo: Fonua Talei
May 04
13:00 2018

All defence lawyers in the alleged sedi­tion case against The Fiji Times will make oral submissions in the Suva High Court today for a ‘No Case to Answer’.

‘A No Case to Answer’ is an application ad­vanced by an accused person, seeking acquit­tal without having to present a defence.

The defence lawyers are: Aman Ravindra-Singh representing the first accused Nai Lalakai column or letter writer Josaia Waqa­baca, Devanesh Sharma representing the second accused Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ra­vula, Marc Corlett QC and Nicholas Barnes are representing Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley and Publisher Hank Arts and Wylie Clarke is representing Fiji Times as a company.

At the close of the Prosecution case yester­day, the defence lawyers indicated that they would make the submissions on behalf of their clients.

Justice Thushara Rajasinghe gave them time until 3pm yesterday to file their written submissions and serve it to the Assistant Di­rector of Public Prosecutions Lee Burney.

He then ordered that submissions be filed in the High Court Criminal Registry by 9am to­day before the hearing begins at midday.

Mr Ravindra-Singh told the Court that the Prosecution had failed to provide circum­stantial or direct evidence to satisfy the elements of the charge of sedition against Waqabaca.

Mr Sharma shared similar sentiments for his client Ravula.

Mr Corlett briefly informed Justice Rajas­inghe that the Prosecution had failed to pro­duce any evidence of a culpable admission in relation to Wesley.

He added there was no evidence of an act of sedition being committed by Arts.

Fiji Times lawyer Mr Clarke said none of the evidence put by the Prosecution proved that there was any intention or knowledge of recklessness on the part of the company.

Mr Clarke said no one at the Board or mana­gerial level had authorised the commission of the offence of sedition.

Bail for all accused men has been extended.

The submissions will be heard today in the absence of the three trial assessors.

CHARGES

Count One – Sedition

Between April 20 and 27 of 2016, Nai Lalakai column writer Josaia Waqabaca is alleged to have done a seditious act, namely submitted an article written by him under the heading “Sa notisi taki na Vunilawa” translated as “Notice to the Attorney-General” for publica­tion in the Nai Lalakai newspaper, with a seditious intention to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely between Non-Muslims and Muslims.

Count Two – Aiding and Abetting Sedition

On or about April 27, 2016 Nai Lalakai Edi­tor Anare Ravula is alleged to have aided and abetted Hank Arts to publish an article un­der the heading “Lewa ni Notisitaki” trans­lated as “Order on Notice” in the Nai Lalakai newspaper published on April 27, 2016 which was a seditious publication in that it had a tendency to promote ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely between Non-Muslims and Muslims.

The charge read that as the editor of the Nai Lalakai newspaper Ravula was alleged­ly under a contractual duty to assist Hank Arts to publish the April 27, 2016 edition of the Nai Lalakai newspaper by ensur­ing editorial standards were maintained, including a duty to prevent the publication of any seditious publication therein, and his failure to prevent the publication of the said seditious publication aided and abet­ted Hank Arts to publish the said seditious publication.

Count Three – Aiding and Abetting Sedition

It is alleged that on or about April 27, 2016 Fred Wesley aided and abetted Arts to pub­lish an article under the heading “Lewa ni Notisitaki” translated as “Order on Notice” in the Nai Lalakai newspaper published on April 27, 2016 which was a seditious publi­cation in that it had a tendency to promote ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely be­tween Non-Muslims and Muslims.

As the editor-in-chief of the Nai Lalakai newspaper Wesley was allegedly under a contractual duty to assist Arts to publish the April 27, 2016 edition of the Nai Lalakai newspaper by ensuring editorial standards were maintained, including a duty to pre­vent the publication of any seditious pub­lication therein, and his failure to prevent the publication of the said seditious publi­cation aided and abetted Arts to publish the said seditious publication.

Count Four – Sedition

On April 27, 2016 as the publisher of the Nai Lalakai newspaper Arts allegedly pub­lished an article under the heading “Lewa ni Notistakii” translated “Order of Notice” in the April 27, 2016 edition of the Nai La­lakai newspaper which was a seditious publication in that it had a tendency to pro­mote ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely be­tween Non-Muslims and Muslims.

Count Five – Sedition

Fiji Times Limited being a company hav­ing its registered office at 177 Victoria Pa­rade, Suva, and as the printer of the Nai La­lakai newspaper allegedly printed the April 27, 2016 edition of the Nai Lalakai newspa­per which contained an article under the heading “Lewa ni Notistakii” translated as “Order on Notice” which was a seditious pub­lication in that it had a tendency to promote ill-will and hostility between different class­es of the population of Fiji, namely between Non-Muslims and Muslims.

Trial Lawyers

Assistant DPP Lee Burney is representing the State assisted by State lawyers Yogesh Prasad and Unaisi Tamanikaiyaroi.

Waqabaca is represented by Mr Aman Ravindra-Singh, Ravula is represented by Mr Devanesh Sharma, Wesley and Arts are represented by Mr Marc Corlett QC and Mr Nicholas Barnes and the Fiji Times company is represented by Mr Wylie Clarke.

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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