NATION

Prosecution Submits Amended Info in Sedition Case of 16 People, 2 of Whom Have Died

  The High Court in Lautoka yesterday received an application to amend information by the prosecution in the case of 16 people from Nadroga charged in relation to the alleged
02 Mar 2017 11:53
Prosecution Submits Amended Info in Sedition Case of 16 People, 2 of Whom Have Died
Lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh (standing) in discussion with his clients outside Lautoka High Court yesterday. Photo:ARISHMA DEVI-NARAYAN

 

The High Court in Lautoka yesterday received an application to amend information by the prosecution in the case of 16 people from Nadroga charged in relation to the alleged formation of a so-called Christian state.

The group from the province of Nadroga-Navosa were charged with sedition and inciting communal antagonism.

The 16 charged are Ratu Inoke Tasere, Jimi Koroibete, Seru Kunalagi, Adi Cuvu Gavidi Atama, Ulaiasi Rabua Tuivono, Peniasi Naqau, Semi Tanikili, Ratu Osea Bolawaqatabu, Ratu Tevita Khaikhainabokolawale Makutu, Mosese Navaci, Eroni Rikoriko, Alifereti Nakuinivou, Alifereti Gonewai, Raicula Rokovou, Adi Vasemaca Veikunekibulu Gonewai and Jorama Ratulevu.

State lawyer Lee Burney, submitted that the Prosecution had rephrased the second count of the accused persons from inciting communal antagonism to sedition.

He reasoned that the act of signing the paper was seditious rather than inciting communal antagonism.

Mr Lee also told the High Court Judge, Justice Sunil  Sharma, that two of the accused persons, Gonewai and Rokovou, had passed away and this was also incorporated in the amended information.

The death certificate of Gonewai was submitted to the court while Rakovou’s death was confirmed by Police.

Furthermore, Mr Lee stated that the state was in a position to go for a proper trial.

However, one of the defence lawyers, Aman Ravindra-Singh, sought time to receive instructions from his clients on the amended charges before the trial.

Mr Ravindra-Singh also questioned the ‘flimsy’ documents based on which the charges were made.

He added that his clients were charged on copies of the four documents that were the base of the case, and not on the originals.

But Mr Lee said the matter was long due before court, “two years in the making” and that the accused persons were entitled to have the matter dealt with without having any further delays.

He labelled Mr Ravindra-Singh’s request to seek more time and questioning of the non-availability of copied documents an opportunistic.

He said all apart from first accused, Tasere had seen the documents they signed and confirmed the signatures.

He suggested that the change in the information was not substantial and the view was to finish off the trial within the month.

Sala Kunatuba, the lawyer for fourth accused, Atama, in response said the prosecution made amendments to the charges two years down the line.

She asked: “Look at these people, these are old people, two have died and how many more will die” as she asked the matter to commence within a reasonable time frame.

The judge however stated that the agreed facts were yet to be signed by both lawyers.

Justice Sharma also said that the submitted amended information had been given to the defence counsel.

Therefore, he ordered that the accused persons be given the justice to discuss the amendment with the lawyers.

The matter has been adjourned for March 29 for the plea to be taken and a trial date to be assigned.

Bail has been extended for all 14.

Atama is represented by Ms Kunatuba, Naqau is represented by Niko Nawaikula and the rest all are represented by Mr Ravindra-Singh.

Mr Nawaikula was not present in court as a result of an issue with his practicing licence, which is expected to be settled this week.

On October 10, 2014 the group allegedly committed an act with sedition intention and signed a document headed ‘Nadroga-Navosa Sovereign Christian State’, with the alleged seditious intention of bringing into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the State.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: arishma.narayan@fijisun.com.fj

 



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