Crime & Court

Bailed Tabuya To Deactivate FB Account

Tabuya, 46, pleaded not guilty to one count of Malicious Act.
31 Mar 2020 09:45
Bailed Tabuya To Deactivate FB Account
Defence lawyer David Toganivalu and Lynda Tabuya outside court on March 30, 2020. Photo: Fonua Talei

The situation that the nation faces with the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t relieve Police officers from carrying out their duties under the Bail Act of 2002.

Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili made the comments yesterday while granting bail to SODELPA Member of Parliament, Lynda Tabuya.

Tabuya, 46, pleaded not guilty to one count of Malicious Act.

It is alleged that on March 19th, Tabuya posted false news on her Facebook page, “Stock up on food Viti! Have a guaranteed farm supply. It’s about to get real! #BeCOVIDready”, and “Let’s just get one thing straight Fiji, the Government brought Coronavirus into Fiji, NOT Soko. #StopBlamingThePeople #CriminalNegligence”.

Her posts are alleged to have the intention of creating public alarm, anxiety or disaffection.

According to her lawyer, Filimoni Vosarogo, Tabuya has been held in Police custody for 90hours.

He also submitted that none of Tabuya’s close relatives were informed of her detention and the reasons.

Police Prosecutor Sergeant Joseph Dickson objected to bail on the grounds that the case is of national interest and her posts can cause disaffection towards government.

He also submitted that due to COVID-19, there was no room for panic and fear and that Tabuya had the ability to interfere with witnesses because of her political influence.

Investigating Officer Inspector Beranadeta Tabalala said Tabuya did not co-operate with investigations and did not surrender her phone to the Police.

Chief Magistrate Ratuvili said Tabuya’s rights had been breached.

He said the State has not been able to establish that the accused is a flight risk and will interfere with Prosecution witnesses.

Chief Magistrate Ratuvili also ordered Tabuya to deactivate her Facebook pages by Friday and provide evidence of the same to the Court.

Tabuya was released on $2000 cash bail with two sureties. She is not allowed to change her residential address and has been ordered to report to the Police station every second Friday of the month between 8am to 6pm.

She was also ordered to surrender her travel documents to the Court and a stop departure order was issued against her.

The case has been adjourned to April 6 for mention.



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