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Karunaratne, Bulitavu alleged sedition retrial commences

  The retrial of businessman Jagath Karunaratne and Opposition Member of Parliament Mosese Bulitavu commenced at the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday. Karunaratne and Bulitavu are charged with allegedly writing seditious
19 Jul 2017 16:53
Karunaratne, Bulitavu alleged  sedition retrial commences
court

 

The retrial of businessman Jagath Karunaratne and Opposition Member of Parliament Mosese Bulitavu commenced at the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday.

Karunaratne and Bulitavu are charged with allegedly writing seditious comments in public places in 2011. They appeared before Magistrate Deepika Prakash.

The two are alleged to have written on signboards between Nausori and Suva with the seditious intention of bringing hatred against the government in 2011.

The trial started in 2016 before Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili, but Magistrate Ratuvili recused himself after a witness mentioned the late Reverend Manasa Lasaro’s name.

Magistrate Ratuvili mentioned that the late Reverend Lasaro was a close relative, therefore the case would have been a conflict of interest.

 

Trial proper

Taniela Ligairi who worked for a production company, the Worker Film took the stand in court yesterday as a prosecution witness.

Under examination by state prosecutor Lisiate Fotofili, Mr Ligairi agreed that the people in Fiji at that time were waiting for the country to return to democracy and that the 2006 takeover was illegal.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh representing Karunaratne, Mr Ligairi said that he recalled a road trip to the late Reverend Manasa Lasaro’s house with Karunaratne and Bulitavu.

Mr Ligairi told the court that a lot of conversation took place at the late Reverend’s place which was mainly in the iTaukei language. He also said that Karunaratne was not part of the conversation and did not take part in the conversation because he did not understand and speak the language.

He revealed that Karunaratne at no point in time asked him to perform any act of spray painting or act of arson like burning homes or Police posts.

Mr Ligairi said that it was Bulitavu who gave his vision of a system of governance in Fiji in 2009.

He also highlighted that his views were not of arson, but a peaceful transition in government. He added that in 2011, Mr Bulitavu visited him at his residence with some of his friends and crew from Worker Film.

Mr Ligairi agreed that he was shown some presentation by Bulitavu from his laptop which talked about the Fiji Democratic Alliance Freedom Movement.

He said Bulitavu wanted the people to choose his system of governance.

Responding to Barbara Malimali, who represented Bulitavu, Mr Ligairi said that on August 25, 2011, he was introduced to someone by the name of Lesuma during the day.

He said that they later drove around Suva City up to Walu Bay.

Mr Ligairi claimed that Lesuma had boasted that he was responsible for burning some cane fields in the Western Division and the Vatudradra Police Post. He said Lesuma told them of the arson plans, to which he and Bulitavu were ‘shocked, speechless and frightened’ about his opinion.

Mr Ligairi also added that Lesuma later visited him and Mosese at his residence and spoke to him about the FDB building.

The witness also said that Lesuma then asked him to go to the porch so that he could communicate with three other boys and they all left the house together.

He also highlighted that Bulitavu was not part of the conversation that he had with Lesuma inside the house.

Mr Ligairi also said that the next morning Bulitavu came to his place and expressed his concern about Lesuma’s arson ideas and mentioned that he did not like his idea.

The trial continues tomorrow.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  kathrin.krishna@fijisun.com.fj

 

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