Nai Lalakai trial: Court grants leave

Lawyer Wylie Clarke (second from right) speaks to Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley (centre) and Fiji Times general manager and publisher Hank Arts (second from left) outside the High Court in Suva yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Lawyer Wylie Clarke (second from right) speaks to Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley (centre) and Fiji Times general manager and publisher Hank Arts (second from left) outside the High Court in Suva . Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

HIGH Court judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe yesterday granted leave to the Prosecution to amend the charges in an alleged sedition case against Fiji Times Limited and three of its senior managers to amend the information, which is the document containing the charges against accused persons.

Justice Rajasinghe made the order on the conditions that the prosecution remove the annexure to the information and specifically provide the details of the classes of the population for which the article printed by the Nai Lalakai newspaper allegedly promoted the feeling of ill-will and hostility in the particulars of the offence.

Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, the company’s general manager and publisher, Hank Arts, the company and a letter writer, Josaia Waqabaca, are charged with one count each of having published or caused to publish or aided and abetted the publication of a letter in the itaukei language in the Nai Lalakai, the itaukei vernacular newspaper on April 27, 2016 that is alleged to be seditious.

The five appeared before Justice Thushara Rajasinghe at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

The defence had objected to the amendment on the grounds that the amended information was incomplete and did not contain the necessary elements of a charge relating to a seditious publication.

In his ruling Justice Rajasinghe said that he did not find that the proposed amendment to the information caused any embarrassment to the accused in their defence, provided that the prosecution removed the annexure to the information and specifically identified the classes of the population for which the said article allegedly promoted the feeling of ill-will and hostility. Bail has been extended for all five. The matter will be called again tomorrow for plea and amended information to be served to the accused persons.